Zeltner’s hard-nosed play fuels Myrtle Beach girls soccer team’s success

For The Sun NewsJune 9, 2014 

Tori Zeltner Toast Girls Soccer

Myrtle Beach’s Tori Zeltner is the Toast of the Coast Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

BY CHARLES SLATE — cslate@thesunnews.com Buy Photo

  • The team

    Player Of The Year

    Tori Zeltner

    School | Myrtle Beach

    Class | Senior

    Position | Midfield

    Notable | Class AAA All-State selection and Region VII-AAA Player of the Year helped Seahawks advance to Lower State semifinals by scoring 10 goals and adding five assists.

    Katie Altman

    School | Aynor

    Class | Junior

    Position | Defender

    Notable | Recorded 33 takeaways, two goals and an assist in helping Blue Jackets to a second-place finish in Region VIII-AA and a first-round playoff win over Lake City.

    Jaime Barnett

    School | Waccamaw

    Class | Junior

    Position | Defender

    Notable | Region VIII-AA Player of the Year helped Warriors to nine shutouts, Region VIII-AA title and appearance in Lower State semifinals by playing every minute of the season.

    Jenny Breeden

    School | St. James

    Class | Senior

    Position | Forward

    Notable | Scored 19 goals and added 11 assists in 19 games. Propelled Sharks to Lower State finals, where they lost to eventual state champion Hilton Head.

    Emelyn Hibionada

    School | Carolina Forest

    Class | Sophomore

    Position | Defender

    Notable | Helped Panthers win Region VI-AAAA title by anchoring a defense with 31 steals in her first season. Added four blocks and a goal.

    Hayden Kelly

    School | Waccamaw

    Class | Sophomore

    Position | Forward

    Notable | Class AA All-State selection and Region VIII-AA first-team pick was Warriors’ top point producer after scoring 25 goals and adding four assists.

    Gabby Moore

    School | Myrtle Beach

    Class | Sophomore

    Position | Goalie

    Notable | Centerpiece of Seahawks’ defense led team to 13 shutouts and a first-place finish in Region VII-AAA. Named to All-Region first team.

    Lawson Murphy

    School | Waccamaw

    Class | Sophomore

    Position | Forward

    Notable | Warriors’ top playmaker and Region VIII-AA selection pushed team to Lower State semifinals by piling up 11 goals and 19 assists.

    Hannah Rowles

    School | North Myrtle Beach

    Class | Junior

    Position | Midfielder

    Notable | All-region first-team selection and defensive-minded midfielder added a pair of goals and five assists and led Chiefs to a third-place finish in Region VII-AAA.

    Amber Rutledge

    School | Socastee

    Class | Sophomore

    Position | Forward

    Notable | All-Region VII-AAA first-team selection had a team-high 21 goals and six assists; led Braves back to Class AAA state playoffs.

    Margaret Scalise

    School | Socastee

    Class | Junior

    Position | Defender, midfielder, forward

    Notable | Braves’ do-it-all player recorded 11 assists and 10 goals after Socastee lost nine starters from 2013 squad. Named to Region VII-AAA second team.

Tori Zeltner couldn’t help but cry.

The Myrtle Beach midfielder had just taken a head to the face against North Myrtle Beach on May 7, and the only thing running down her face faster than the tears was the blood coming from her nose. The Seahawks were down to their last game and a half of the regular season, and with the playoffs starting the following week, the thought of not being involved in the final few games of her high school career was eating up the Toast of the Coast Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

“She was just determined she was going to play,” Seahawks coach Mary Jo Hajek said. “She was crying – not because it hurt, but because she thought she wasn’t going to be able to play. You have to hand it to a kid like that.”

Zeltner said her “heart dropped” when she believed she was done.

Instead, Zeltner finished that game – a 4-0 win over the Chiefs. She then came out the next night wearing a face guard in the regular-season finale victory against St. James.

The senior donned the shield for the first two playoff games before playing her final high school game with only a sponge shoved inside her re-set nose.

“The pain did not bother me; it was no more than tweaking your ankle,” she said. “But I [wanted to know] how long I was going to be out for.

“It was kind of uncomfortable. I couldn’t see out of my peripheral. … What was I going to do? It’s not like I use my nose a lot.”

That sacrificial attitude was there even before the break. It helped her wrap up her career by scoring 10 goals and add five assists for a Myrtle Beach team that finished 10-0 in region play, 17-2 overall and advanced to the third round of the state playoffs. The Seahawks fell to eventual state champion Hilton Head.

Not before, however, Zeltner could be recognized for everything she had accomplished.

The four-year starter and two-time Toast of the Coast honoree was named the Region VII-AAA Player of the Year and to the Class AAA All-State team. In the process, she also earned a spot playing collegiately for The Citadel.

The cadet-driven program, she said, will be good for her personally and athletically. The military school known for its constant attrition battle also seems like a great fit.

“She’s willing to put in the work,” Hajek said. “She’s played club soccer and high school soccer. She didn’t get that good by taking it easy. She’ll be successful down there because she’s going in knowing it’s going to be tough.”

Contact IAN GUERIN at ian@ianguerin.com.

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