Chiefs give Dreher the boot, reach Lower State semifinals

North Myrtle Beach wasn’t supposed to be the soccer-rich Grand Strand’s best shot for a boys Lower State title, but the Chiefs are the last ones standing.

The third-place team from Region VIII-AAA advanced to the third round of the Class AAA Lower State playoffs with a 2-0 victory over visiting Dreher while higher seeded region rivals Myrtle Beach and Socastee were eliminated.

“It’s funny how it works out sometime, but we’ll take it,” said North Myrtle Beach coach Jason Mueller. “It was a tough game but our guys played great.”

Jeremy Sopa scored on an assist in the first half from Ian Fellenz and put Dreher away with a second goal off an assist from Johnny Schuchmann in the second half.

But it was the Chiefs’ defense, led by goalkeeper Dallas Hill’s five saves, that has powered North Myrtle Beach (13-8) to a surprising turnaround after a slow start to the season.

The 12th-ranked Chiefs were 7-7 following a 2-0 defeat to Socastee. The season’s low point proved to be a turning point for the Chiefs, who have won six of their last seven outings.

“After the loss to Socastee we changed formations and started to play more to our strengths,” Mueller said. “We’ve been a different team ever since. Even the 4-1 loss to Myrtle Beach was 1-1 until the second half.”

Now the Chiefs stand alone in representing the Grand Strand in boys soccer. They will travel to Brookland-Cayce for the Lower State semifinals at 7 p.m. Saturday.

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