Athlete of Week: Socastee soars behind Matlashewski

socsoc-11While the postseason honors keep rolling in for Socastee High soccer standout Chris Matlashewski, he’s still trying to get used to the fact that the season is over.

The Braves’ impressive 23-4 campaign came to an end in Saturday’s Class 5A Lower State final with a 2-1 double-overtime loss to defending state champion River Bluff. The disappointment of finishing one win shy of reaching the state title game was even tougher for the junior since it was his last game with many of his longtime senior teammates.

“We had a good season, but I wasn’t ready for it to end,” said Matlashewski, who added the Mammy’s Kitchen Athlete of the Week to his long list of awards. “I started playing with this group of seniors when we were 6 years old and we’ve been together ever since. We had a pretty nice run.”

More than pretty nice. The Braves have gone 30-0 in Region 6-5A play over the past three seasons, and Matlashewski has played a major role in the region three-peat. He was named a team co-captain as a junior and earned Region Player of the Year honors after scoring 36 goals and dishing out nine assists in 2017. He has 91 goals and 30 assists for his career.

“Chris has become a leader and has worked hard to add versatility in his game, which has produced great results for Socastee,” said Braves coach J. Byron Owen.

Matlashewski’s accomplishments have spread beyond the region, however, as he was named to the Class 5A All-State squad as a junior. He was recently named a Top Drawer All-American and has been catching the eye of interested college programs. But it’s still hard to look forward to summer camps and another season of high school and club soccer with last week’s games still on his mind.

Socastee’s two playoff games last week were opposing tales of triumph and defeat. In a 3-2 win over James Island in the Lower State semifinals, Matlashewski scored all three goals for the Braves – including two penalty kicks in overtime that allowed Socastee to complete a comeback in the final minutes.

“It was crazy because when we went down 2-1 in overtime we all huddled together and said ‘No matter what, we’re not going to give up’ ” Matlashewski recalled. “We didn’t quit and good things happened. I wasn’t really feeling the pressure (of taking the PKs), but on the second one I had a real bad knee cramp. I just wanted to end it.”

Matlashewski did just that, but the Braves found themselves back in another OT battle Saturday against visiting River Bluff. Tied at 1-all in double overtime and seemingly headed for another sudden-death period, the Gators got a goal to break the Braves’ hearts. Fortunately for Matlashewski, he will be back next season for one more shot at the ultimate goal.

“It’s hard to tell because we lost pretty much our whole defense, but I believe we can pull it together,” Matlashewski said. “We’ve got some good kids coming back so we’re going to try to keep moving forward. Winning a state championship would be a great way to go out.”

Photo by Prep Stars Media

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