AIKEN - Spring Valley's Chase Rowell and John Rollison took turns discussing their goals in Monday night's South Carolina Class AAAA soccer quarterfinal.
Rowell needed 30 seconds to describe Valley's first goal. It erased Aiken's 1-0 advantage with 18 minutes to play. Rollison's game-winner in Spring Valley's 2-1 win against the top-ranked team in Class AAAA was an even longer tale. It involved a halftime scouting report about Aiken defender Peyton Stilp.
"We discussed at halftime that their No. 11 had the sort of touch we could take advantage of," Rollison said.
Stilp's hesitation with the ball in free space created Rollison's breakaway. He caught a late Stilp pass with his right thigh, took off and then cut back toward the box at three-quarters speed.
"I wanted to shoot then, but a kid stole it from me," Rollison said. "Somebody tried to clear it. But I blocked."
Aiken (18-2) recovered the ball, but the Vikings' Paddy Flynn stripped it clear and played the ball to his right, back to Rollison.
"The keeper was going to his left," Rollison said. "I just placed it to the right and rolled it in."
That's the abridged version. Rollison's epic narrative took a full minute to describe. Rowell's goal, the first Aiken had allowed in the playoffs, changed the game.
"I think it rebounded off two people," Rowell said. "One of theirs and one of ours. Our guy marking the keeper got a foot on it. It bounced off the keeper and I was the guy to clean it up."
Steady Aiken keeper Calder Rearden needed to lay out for a full belly-flop to stop a point-blank attack seconds earlier.
"That's my best save all year," Rearden said. "It's disappointing to make a save you're proud of and be powerless to stop what's next."
Aiken, its intensity staggered, managed two shots on goal over the last 20 minutes. The Hornets allowed only 12 goals this season coming into the game.
"We couldn't finish today or stop those deflection goals," Aiken sweeper John Odum said. "But it's been a good year. We won the region. We beat South Aiken twice. We were just unlucky over a span of three minutes."
Rowell said his Vikings entered the playoffs with something more valuable than Aiken's ranking.
"We've played the toughest schedule of anyone in the state," he said.
Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or email@example.com.
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