The third time wasn’t the charm, but the Indian Land Warriors are hoping a fourth might be.
For the fourth straight year, the Indian Land boys won the Upper State soccer championship with a 4-1 win over Saluda, and will be trying to win the 2A state championship that has eluded them each of the last three years.
To do that, they will have to beat Academic Magnet, a team that kept them from that goal last year. The 2A state championship is at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at River Bluff High School.
“We have seen them and we are going to make a game plan and try to avoid mistakes,” said Indian Land coach Adam Cole. “The kids are hungry. We know we can hang with them.”
In winning their fourth straight Upper State title, the Warriors knocked off the Tigers for the second year in a row.
“We had our scouting reports on them and we knew what they were going to do before they did,” Cole said. “We just went out there and played our game.”
Down 2-0 coming out of the half, Saluda was on the attack early and forced Indian Land into a fouling situation setting up a penalty kick. Tigers’ senior Victor Veloz smashed the ball past a diving Warriors’ keeper Luke Harris to prevent the Indian Land shutout about three minutes into the second half.
Despite the early goal, neither team was able to get a leg up on the other offensively in the early going as both team struggled to control possession.
Saluda took a shot about the 53 minute mark in the game, but Harris made a kick save to his left to keep the Tigers from tying the game
Three minutes later, Indian Land junior Brandon Jacob looked to casually loft the ball towards the Saluda goal, but it had enough spin that the Tigers’ keeper Sergio Sum was helpless in stopping it as the Warriors went up 3-1 with the ball falling into the back of the net.
Jacob wasn’t done as Indian Land started to control possession more and scored his second goal of the game just six minutes later on a rocket up the middle that scorched its way past Sum.
Indian Land controlled possession for the majority of the first half, which helped them to take a 2-0 lead.
The Warriors kept Sum on his toes the much of the first half taking eight shots on goal.
Indian Land had its first shot on goal go off the top of the crossbar, one of two shots in the first half, that did that.
The Warriors’ first goal came 11 minutes into the game as junior Matthew Medlock scored to give Indian Land a 1-0 lead.
Saluda didn’t get its first true shot attempt in the game until about 16 minutes into play. About six minutes later, Indian Land senior Jordan Szustwal made a save after Harris came out of the box to try and defense his position.
Saluda was able to sneak past Harris to go for the shot, but before they could Szustwal came sprinting across the field to kick the ball out of bounds stopping the would-be goal for the Tigers.
Indian Land got another break midway through the first half when Saluda’s third shot on goal went off the right bar and deflected out of play.
The Warriors started to allow Saluda to control possession more toward the end of the first half, but was able to finally set up senior Justin Penn, who they had been gunning for most of the game trying to get him the ball.
After a brief scrum for the ball, Penn was able to knock the ball in for the Warriors in the closing seconds of the first half.
Indian Land 4, Saluda 1
IL - Matthew Medlock, 10:55
IL - Justin Penn, 39:55
S – Victor Veloz, 42:41
IL – Brandon Jacob, 56:58
IL – Jacob, 62:22
Shots on goals: Saluda 6, Indian Land 13.
Saves: Sergio Sum (S) 5, Luke Harris (IL) 3.
Corner kicks: Saluda 1, Indian Land 2.
Records: Saluda 15-3-1, Indian Land 16-7-1.