Jason Mueller’s team made good on its postseason gift.
North Myrtle Beach then milked its only home game of the playoffs.
The Chiefs defeated Stall 2-1 in overtime on Thursday. Samir Cardoza’s corner kick ricocheted off a Warriors player and into the goal midway through the second extra period and he and his teammates held on from there.
It was a similar scenario as Tuesday, when North Myrtle Beach also needed the two 10-minute periods before taking down Crestwood on the road.
“When you’ve got a young team like we do – we’ve only got one senior – it shows me they’re growing up,” Mueller said. “It shows me resilience. Most of the time, a young team, going into two overtimes like that, the quality can tend to drop off. For us, it’s kind of gone the opposite way.”
Not surprisingly, then, the Chiefs looked like they had a little extra in the tank against the Warriors during overtime. After Stall missed a point-blank shot during the first minute, North Myrtle Beach controlled most of the tempo.
When you’ve got a young team like we do – we’ve only got one senior – it shows me they’re growing up. It shows me resilience. Most of the time, a young team, going into two overtimes like that, the quality can tend to drop off. For us, it’s kind of gone the opposite way.
North Myrtle Beach coach Jason Mueller
Then, after being awarded that corner kick, Cardoza made sure it counted.
“It shows that we have the capacity to do it,” Cardoza said of the extra push late after a relatively stagnant second half. “But then we get at their level. We have the possibility to go beyond these teams, to win 5-0. But we get one or two goals and then we settle.”
North Myrtle Beach certainly looked like it had opportunities to blow the game open early. Most of the first 10-15 minutes were played near the Stall goal, and Hamdane Aoubou’s strike 14 minutes in put the Chiefs up 1-0.
But with 19 minutes left in the second half, Stall’s Adrian Perez tied it up with a free-kick goal – one that also deflected off a defender. Cardoza’s goal in overtime, though, allowed North Myrtle Beach to take advantage of the fact that it was playing at home.
The Chiefs’ first-round win over Crestwood wasn’t that much of a surprise given Region VII-AAA’s tendency to get at least one seeding upset. The same couldn’t be said for Stall – which last month dismissed its best player and was playing at the No. 5 team in the state.
It set up the second-round match-up in Little River.
“We were happy,” Cardoza said. “Oh my god. We were screaming on that bus on the way home.”
Mueller said his excitement lasted “about five minutes” before he started game-planning. It realistically took even less time to move on after Thursday’s win. The Chiefs will now have to head to perennial state power Hilton Head on Saturday.
The Seahawks (18-2-1) made quick work of Region VII-AAA foe Wilson on Thursday night and were ranked No. 6 in the South Carolina Class AAA final regular season polls.
If nothing else, this isn’t a completely new situation for Mueller. In 2012, North Myrtle Beach opened the playoffs as a No. 3 seed, picked up an opening win on the road, made good on a second-round home game and then pulled the upset on the road at a No. 1 seed, in that case Brookland-Cayce.
This time around, he wasn’t discounting the fact that his squad advanced because of a win over a lower seed, crediting Stall’s first-round effort to knock off Brookland-Cayce. Either way, the Chiefs made it count and showed some mettle in the process.