Seahawks ride defense to Soccer at the Beach final

Despite being shorthanded, the Myrtle Beach High boys and girls soccer teams made strong title-defense bids as hosts of last weekend’s Soccer at the Beach Tournament – with the operative word being “defense.”

For the second straight season, the Lady Seahawks (12-2-1 overall, 5-0 Region 6-4A) did not allow a single goal in repeating as girls champions. They won their three matches by a combined score of 11-0 despite using third-string goalkeeper Lexi Bazen in Saturday’s wins.

“I was little concerned because moving up from JV to varsity can be a little intimidating, especially in a big tournament, but I felt comfortable that the rest of the team could take some of the pressure off her,” Myrtle Beach girls coach Blair Mueller said. “That’s one of the good things about having a solid defense and a deep bench.”

With starting goalkeeper Mary Quinn Fullwood sidelined, senior goalie Asia Smith returned from playing in Saturday’s Carolinas All-Star Basketball Classic for Sunday’s title game. Myrtle Beach defeated Socastee 6-0 in Sunday’s girls championship game.

The Myrtle Beach boys also posted three shutouts and allowed only two goals during the tournament – both in the final. Those two goals were enough to prevent the Seahawks (10-3-1, 5-0) from repeating as tournament champs. Oceanside Collegiate of Mount Pleasant claimed a 2-1 overtime victory over the Seahawks for the second time this season in Sunday’s final.

The shorthanded Seahawks used a stingy defense and a stellar performance by goalkeeper Max Davila to go undefeated and unscored on in pool play with wins of 1-0 over St. James, 1-0 over West Oak and 2-0 over North Myrtle Beach. The shutout streak ended in the first half of the final, but Myrtle Beach’s Shavoy Brown tied it up with a second-half strike. The Landsharks clinched it with a goal in overtime.

“To be down a few players in a tournament setting where you play good competition over a short period of time, you have to have guys who are willing to step up and battle,” said Myrtle Beach boys coach and tournament director Jason Himmelsbach. “I thought our guys did a great job of going out and giving a great effort. They have nothing to be ashamed of.”

The tournament kicked off a hectic stretch for both Myrtle Beach squads, which played seven games over a five-day period thanks to three straight region games to start the week. Both teams posted shutout victories over Wilson on Monday and rival North Myrtle Beach on Tuesday to remain undefeated and in first place midway through the region race.

“I knew coming into the season we were going to have a good defense and they have had to carry us a bit while we work things out on offense,” said Mueller, whose team shut out Wilson 10-0 Monday and North Myrtle Beach 5-0 Tuesday. “We lost a lot of our scoring last year but we have good players and they’re starting to put it together.”

“Our goal is always to win the region and to be playing our best soccer heading into the playoffs,” said Himmelsbach, whose Seahawks skunked Wilson 4-0 Monday and North Myrtle Beach 3-0 Tuesday. “If we can get everyone healthy and keep playing hard and improving, we have a good chance to make a deep run.”

Photo by Janet Morgan/myhorrynews

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