With every sunrise are wonders anew for Jason Himmelsbach, the new father eager to observe what his 8-month-old twin daughters learned since he last saw them.
Over the course of the past few days, however, the thrill of watching them laugh and crawl has served as a worthy distraction for the Myrtle Beach High soccer coach.
“The girls have certainly offered me a broader perspective when it comes to wins and losses,” Himmelsbach said. “In many ways, they have helped keep me focused.”
While the little ones are given the best of their father off the pitch, the Seahawks have received the same from their coach on it. And as a result, they’ve given much of the same.
The top-ranked team in Class AAA, Myrtle Beach will seek to complete its pursuit of a state title on Saturday, taking on Chapin at Irmo’s W.C. Hawkins Stadium.
“Our team has responded well, knowing that being No. 1 — especially come playoff time — means nothing if you aren’t able to win the big one,” Himmelsbach said. “We’ve taken one game at a time, setting and grabbing our goals one at a time as well. We were able to first get region, then the first several rounds of the playoffs.
“Now, there is only one more (game) left for us to get.”
Myrtle Beach comes into the state title tilt with a 23-2-1 record, its only losses coming at the hand of Nation Ford and Socastee — a pair of Class AAAA powerhouses on the pitch. It also managed a 1-1 draw against Hanahan in March.
Key in the Seahawks run to success has been the All-State trio of forwards Adolfo Aguilar and Elijah Rice, as well as midfielder Foster Russell.
As a former Myrtle Beach High soccer player, to see where this program has come from, it would mean so much. A lot of players have come and gone through the school, and helped us build this program to their hard work and sacrifice. This would be something we would be able to share with them.
Myrtle Beach soccer coach Jason Himmelbach
But in Tuesday’s Lower State final match against Hilton Head Island, it was goalkeeper David Caraker making the key plays, stopping a pair of shots that allowed Myrtle Beach to advance to Saturday’s final.
According to Himmelsbach, the Seahawks net minder saves his best for when the team needs it most.
“It is his first year as a starter, but he responds for us in the biggest games,the biggest moments,” he said. “Those key stops and key plays really were the difference for us.”
Certainly, Caraker’s performance will be the one put under the largest microscope, but each member of Myrtle Beach’s starting 11 must be in form if it is to bring home a state crown. Part of that has to do with the opponent it is facing in Chapin, which cruised to the Upper State title with a 4-1 win over A.C. Flora.
While the Seahawks’ starting 11 is chock full of stars, Chapin is no slouch in its own right. The Eagles are also led by a trip of All-State performers, the like of midfielders Nader Almassri and Cooper Woodham, as we as forward Smith Dawsey.
“I have the utmost respect for Chapin, they’re a team that brings a lot to the table,” Himmelsbach said. “But it’s a challenge we are looking forward to.”
This is the Seahawks’ fourth shot at bringing home a state soccer title. Following the disappointment of losing in the Lower State final a season ago, the squad’s sole mission has been to finish the job it set out to accomplish.
Now, it stands only 90 minutes from doing just that.
When asked what a state title on the pitch would mean to Myrtle Beach High School, Himmelsbach found himself at a loss for words.
“As a former Myrtle Beach High soccer player, to see where this program has come from, it would mean so much,” he said. “A lot of players have come and gone through the school, and helped us build this program to their hard work and sacrifice. This would be something we would be able to share with them.”
Class AAA state title match
Who: Myrtle Beach vs. Chapin
When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Where: W.C. Hawkins Stadium, Irmo