It was a foreign feeling for Cambridge Academy head coach Robert Rooney.
In a normal game, Rooney is tense as he has watched games come right down to the wire. In the 2021 season, the Cougars played in overtime five times and have had games decided with penalty kicks four times.
With 10 minutes left in Wednesday’s match, he could finally relax as the Cougars cruised to a 6-1 victory over Lowcountry Prep, punching their ticket to the SCISA Class 1A state championship.
“I just didn’t know how to behave with that much time left,” Rooney joked. “It’s the first game all year where I didn’t feel like I was about to have a heart attack. I’m just glad they won one like that.”
Rooney’s nerves were quickly calmed as the Cougars struck first just four minutes into the semifinal match, as a Lilly Rudd header found the back of the net off a Lindsey Lee corner kick.
Cambridge scored again just 12 minutes later as freshman Indiya Southerland tallied her first-ever goal, booting a loose ball past the Lowcountry Prep goalkeeper.
“We started off [well] with the corner kick and that’s why we send Lilly Rudd down there,” Rooney said. “She’s really aggressive on the ball and just attacks it. I thought we were just aggressive all over the field tonight and I thought we could have put a couple more in.”
The second half became the Jordan Mapes show as the striker tallied four goals in the win, all of which were scored in the half.
Mapes and Alex Cockrell used their speed and quick passing to put balls in behind the Lowcountry Prep defenders resulting in multiple chances each for the duo.
“Alex Cockrell, I call her ‘Bam Bam,’ she was phenomenal tonight with her energy,” Rooney said. “She just hustled up and down the [sideline] and created a lot for Jordan Mapes. To score four goals in her last game on this field and to do it in a playoff game is pretty cool.”
The Cougars will travel to Columbia for the state championship game as they await the winner of Charleston Collegiate and Holy Trinity Classical.
Friday’s game will be the third-straight state championship game the team has played in during the past three years. Cambridge won the SCISA Class 1A state championship in 2018 and was runner-up in 2019.
“For the seniors, this will be the third time they will play in the state championship,” Rooney said. “That’s what we were talking about right after the game, just how special this really is.”
Contact sports writer James Benedetto at 864-943-1814.