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Beaufort Academy takes girls soccer state title

CHARLESTON — When leading scorer Mary Keane had to leave the field with a head injury in the first half of the SCISA Class A title game Friday at Porter-Gaud, Amanda Kahn knew she had to step her game up as Beaufort Academy’s only other senior.

“I’ve been playing with Mary for I don’t even know how long. So I said to myself, ‘I have to do this for my other senior.’ I felt like I had to put the ball in the goal,” Kahn said.

And she did just that.

Kahn scored four minutes after the injury and punched one in again with two minutes left to seal a 3-1 victory over John Paul II for the Eagles’ first state title since 2013.

Keane scored to make it 1-1 on a beautiful assist over the top from Kahn two minutes before the injury, a connection that occurred more often than not in Beaufort Academy games this season. Kahn would cross. Keane would finish.

Kahn “hasn’t scored maybe as much as she had in previous seasons, but she’s been an amazing distributer at midfield,” coach David Byrne said. “She lets us use a lot of width on the field with those beautiful crosses into the middle.”

Byrne said he didn’t feel he needed to say a lot to Kahn to change her approach after the injury.

“All I told her was that maybe she had a goal in her,” he said.

As it turned out, Kahn did him one better.

The first of her goals was a top-shelfer on a penalty kick. The second, which essentially clinched the win, was pushed in at the edge of the goal after a fight for possession in the box. Forward Abby Dalton initiated the pressure.

For Kahn, the title was the second in her career. She was an eighth-grader on the 2013 team.

“We were all close on that team and we’re all really close on this one, too. It’s been really cool,” she said.

It was title No. 3 for Byrne in his 17 years at Beaufort Academy, also having won it in 2011. He said this year’s team was one of his best and the journey to the top wasn’t easy.

“We knew going in to the playoffs that we had everything to lose being the 1 seed. And we knew losing Mary and Amanda (next year), this is our chance, so there was a lot of pressure on us,” he said.

Beaufort Academy also faced the challenge of having to beat a scrappy John Paul II team for the third time in one season.

“We kept (the strategy) the same,” Byrne said. “It’s hard to beat a team that’s well-coached three times. We knew they played us tough the second time and we told our girls that they’re going to play us even better this third time, and they did.”

Beaufort Academy was young this season, but Byrne said what he’ll remember most about the team is the impact of his seniors.

“Both Mary and Amanda are great soccer players and great people to coach,” he said. “You can’t replace them. They bring a lot to the field and to the game, but they also bring a lot to the team in practice and team meetings, and things that people wouldn’t see.

“We’re going to miss them tremendously and I can’t say enough about either of them. They’re definitely hall of famers at Beaufort Academy.”

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