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John Paul II boys fall in SCISA soccer state semifinal

  • Jack Cavanaugh/Bluffton Today - Golden Warriors forward Elijah Moreno attempts a touch.
  • Jack Cavanaugh/Bluffton Today - Marcello Vera dribbles up field for JP II.

The John Paul II boys soccer team finished its SCISA Class A playoff run with a loss at home Wednesday, falling 2-1 to Palmetto Christian Academy in a state semifinal.

PCA midfielder Grant Lonneman scored twice for the Eagles, while Elijah Moreno had the lone goal for the Golden Warriors.

“The game, it was a really good soccer game between two well-deserving teams,” JP II coach Matt Dakolios said. “Both of these teams deserve to be playing on Friday, and that’s a really good program that gave us everything we can handle.”

“It’s just one of those games where, you know, a foot or two away on a couple chances and we’re the ones celebrating.”

Having lost to the Eagles twice before – a 6-1 loss on March 10 and a 3-3 loss on penalty kicks on April 28 – JP II played their opponent to a draw for the majority of the match with near misses sprinkled throughout.

Moreno had a clean shot on goal late in the first half and then had a golden opportunity for a rebound shot but hit it high and wide.

Lonneman had two goals in quick succession at the 72nd and 77th minute for the Eagles to take the lead.

Moreno’s goal in the final minute was too late for the Golden Warriors, who finished their second year of varsity play with a record of 13-8 and had the deepest playoff run in program history.

JP II also shared the SCISA Class 2-A region championship with Beaufort Academy and PCA.

John Paul had beaten Covenant 8-1 in Monday’s state quarterfinal.

“We talked to the boys after the game, and it’s, you know, winning and losing is obviously an important part of building these lessons, but these guys are going to be really proud of what they did this season,” Dakolios added.

“The moments they created together and the young men they became, I told them I’m 100 percent sure just from being around each other, from battling with each other, we’re better people at the end of the season than we were at the beginning.”

JP II will also say goodbye to three seniors: – Karl Johnson, Colin Byrne and Alex Thaller.

Johnson, of Ridgeland, and Byrne were three-sport athletes, competing in football, basketball and soccer. Thaller played soccer and football.

Johnson played in 19 games this season and scored 14 goals on 75 shots, with nine assists and 101 steals. Byrne appeared in 13 games and had two goals and two assists, while Thaller had 61 steals in 15 games.

“I always knew this was going to be my last game, or the playoffs this season were going to be my last game,” Johnson said. “I tried not to think about it during the game and not let it affect me.”

“Then at the end it kind of set in, but it’s been an honor to play and start all the sports programs at John Paul. Our goal freshmen year was to start a new school and lay the foundation, and I think we did a great job.”

Johnson, Moreno and Sebastian Laverde were named to the All-Region team, while Dakolios was named Region Coach of the Year

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