The Bishop England boys’ soccer team didn’t have much time to rest during the just-completed spring break, not even time to rest on their illustrious laurels. But the Battling Bishops certainly had time to celebrate as they captured the Group A championship of the 29th annual Nike Palmetto Cup.
The event, which was hosted by Gray Collegiate Academy and contested at the Saluda Shoals Complex in Columbia, brings together most of the Palmetto State’s elite soccer programs, and that definitely includes Ed Khouri’s Bishops.
Khouri, who has been head coach at BE since 1993, says the Bishops have the potential to be state champions. The team is peaking at just the right time, but the big question is: “Can the Bishops maintain that level through the playoffs?”
“You have to earn it,” Khouri said of winning a state title. “You have to play from beginning to the end, and that’s something we haven’t been able to do the last couple of times.”
That includes the end of the 2019 season when Bishop England led May River with three minutes to go in the Class AAA Lower State championship. But May River scored two goals to stun the Bishops.
The Bishops opened the Nike Palmetto Cup play with a 4-0 victory over Legion Academy of Rock Hill, but dropped a 2-1 decision to SCISA power Cardinal Newman on a late goal.
But the Bishops hit on all cylinders to defeat Blythewood 3-1 on the final day of competition to win the title based on a points system.
Three Bishops made the all-tournament team including sophomore keeper Ben Lordi, senior midfielder Nick DeFazio and senior midfielder Zachary Michel.
The Bishops are 9-2 overall this spring, including 6-1 in Region 8-AAA play, which is good enough for a first-place tie in the standings with Oceanside Collegiate Academy.
The Bishops’ biggest games remaining on the regular-season schedule include Gray Academy on April 23 and Wando three days later.
“We have a mix of seniors and young players,” Khouri said. “We had a very good preseason, and now we are coming into our own. We’ve played the heavy-hitters in our region and kept them going over the Easter (break) to prepare and be ready for Wando.”
The Bishops have won 17 state championships in boys’ soccer, which is the most by any S.C. High School League member school in state history. However, the team hasn't claimed the top prize since 2016.
The Bishops opened the tournament with a 6-5 victory over West Ashley but dropped an 11-4 decision to Blessed Trinity of Georgia, which eventually finished runner-up to Summerville.
The Bishops closed out action with a 9-5 setback to Toledo (Ohio) St. Francis De Sales.
The Bishops are 2-0 in Region 8-AAA and are in contention for the league championship after a pair of victories over Oceanside Collegiate. The Bishops were scheduled to play Academic Magnet in league play Tuesday and Friday, while playing Hilton Head and Benedictine Military in non-region games.