The Coast FA 99 red boys U-14 soccer team made club history over the weekend.
Now, the squad has plans on adding to its legacy.
Coast 99 became the first Coast FA team at the challenge level to win the State Cup Tournament in Mount Pleasant, advancing to the 15-team regional tournament to be played June 18-26 in Baton Rouge, La.
“This group is super coachable,” coach Joel Banta said. “They’ve put in a lot of time on their own – not just in training sessions I have, but they’re doing things on their own, challenging themselves away from practice.”
The state title also allowed Coast 99 to become just the third Myrtle Beach-area team to rise into the Region III Premier League, where it will play next fall. The OSSOC 88 boys team was the first to reach the division, followed by the Coast 96 red boys, who qualified two consecutive years under Banta.
“We have great team speed in the back, good technical players in the middle of the field and strong players with speed in the front who can stretch the field,” said Banta, who spent time coaching both the Myrtle Beach High School girls and boys teams for five years in the early 2000s.
To win the tournament, Coast 99 knocked off top-seeded SCUFC Elite from Columbia 1-0 in the semifinals before beating second seed Cesa Challenge of Greenville 2-0 in the finals. Both of those clubs are much larger, sporting “upwards of 5,000 players and 3,000 players,” respectively, compared to around 1,000 for Coast FA, Banta said.
“We had a lot of things go our way. You’ve got to get your bounces sometimes,” said Banta, who has coached the group since they were U-12. “You’ve got to get a little lucky along the way. These boys competed their socks off to get there.
“… They were shocked they won, but they understood they were capable of doing it. That’s just a tribute to the work they’ve put in.”
Coast 99 leaves next week for the tournament and will be grouped with North Texas, Georgia and Louisiana.
“We’re going to play every game like it’s a semifinal game to get to the state championship,” Batna said. “Once you get to the state tournament anything can happen and we realized that this year.”
Coast FA is accepting donations to help with travel expenses. Anyone interested can contact Renee Pereedom at 843-655-9383. Banta said that those wishing to follow the team’s results can find updates on the club’s Facebook page throughout the tournament.
Contact DAVID WETZEL at 626-0295.