Coast 96 Red make deep run, earn Premiere League status

The Coast FA Boys Under-15 Challenge team qualified for Region III Premier League status by finishing in second place in the State Cup tournament held in Greenville last weekend.

“The boys’ achievement is a direct reflection of their hard work this season and in prior years,” said Red coach Joel Banta. “The parents and players have been dedicated to traveling and playing at a high level for numerous years and it has finally gotten this group to the next level.”

The Coast 96 Red won their first two matches in dramatic fashion to reach the championship match, taking shootout victories over the SCUFC Palmetto from Columbia and the Cesa 96 Premiere of Greenville, which was ranked No. 9 in the nation and was playing on its home field.

After winning a scoreless opener via penalty kicks, the Red battled the Greenville team to a 2-2 tie at the end of regulation and two overtime periods, forcing another game to a dramatic shootout. The Red took a 3-2 edge in PKs to advance to the championship game.

The extra playing time and several injuries forced the Red to play with only 11 embers in the title match against SCU/Mt. Pleasant, which took a 4-1 win to claim the championship. But the runner-up finish locked the Red into the Premire League for next season.

The Coast 96 Red became only the second team from the Myrtle Beach area to achieve Premiere League status, joining the OSSOC 88 boys team in the honor. That means next fall the team will compete against the top teams in Region III, which includes State Cup winners from Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas.

“It will be a challenge playing in the premier league next fall but with proper preparation and dedication this group can have tremendous success,” Banta said. “I am fortunate to have had a chance to experience this moment as a coach and hope the team can become stronger with this new opportunity.”

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