Sharks shellack Seahawks, advance to state title game

sjsoc-1mbSt. James sent a loud and clear message to the Grand Strand and South Carolina in Tuesday night’s Class 3A Boys Soccer Lower State Championship Game: There’s a new soccer power in the area, and perhaps even in the state.

The Sharks dismantled Myrtle Beach on its home turf by a 5-1 score to advance to Saturday’s Class 3A state championship match against the AC Flora-Chapin winner. It’s the first-ever appearance in either title game, and the Sharks made an impressive debut.

St. James’ Luke Williams scored a hat trick and Quadarius Grate tallied two goals to lead the Sharks’ offensive attack. On the defensive end, Haywood Brandon was near-flawless in turning away every attempt by the Seahawks.

Many fans were still in line to get in when the highest drama occurred. In the opening minutes, a ball got past Brandon and appeared destined for the back of the net when a Sharks defender back-kicked the ball at the goalline.

At the 12-minute mark, Williams converted a picture-perfect cross that proved to be the game-winner. He added a similar goal with 2 minutes left in the first half to give the Sharks a 2-0 lead and a ton of confidence heading into the second half.

St. James removed any hopes of a Myrtle Beach comeback with a flurry of second-half goals. Grate headed home a nice assist from Keaton Zimmer at the 59-minute mark, and Williams capped his hat trick and Grate added his second over the next 10 minutes. Myrtle Beach’s Franc Lamjca avoided the shutout with a late score.

The win was St. James’ third in a six-day stretch that included three road wins, two on opposite ends of the state within a 24-hour period. The Sharks had their team bus break down en route between those games but still found the will to win and advance.

Tuesday’s win was the Sharks’ third over the Seahawks in four meetings this season, and it was by far the most convincing. The Sharks won a shootout in the season-opening Michael Nash Memorial Tournament and used a double-overtime comeback victory at home. They dropped 2-0 decision at Myrtle Beach two weeks ago but haven’t lost since.

Photo by Rancier Photography

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