Some keeled over as if they’d taken a swift punch to the gut, while others stared in disbelief, almost as if their worst dream had suddenly come true.
Having seized momentum following a pair of second-half goals that pulled it even in the Class AAA boys soccer championship game, Myrtle Beach seemed primed to complete the comeback, putting it in good position to become the first program to bring a state title back to the Grand Strand on the pitch.
In a blink, however, it was all gone.
Cooper Woodham’s second goal of the match in the 71st minute proved to be a decisive one, delivering Chapin a 3-2 win and the Class AAA boys soccer title. The loss proved to be the Seahawks’ fourth in the state championship game in as many tries.
“It’s a tough way to lose a game, especially one for a state championship; there’s no possible way to sugarcoat it,” said Myrtle Beach soccer coach Jason Himmelsbach. “I’m really proud of my guys and the way they responded against a good team. To be down like that in the first half and really win the battle in the second half and concede a late goal, they have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Myrtle Beach found itself on its heels early following a pair of Eagles goals, one by Woodham in the match’s ninth minute and another by Matthew Greco a mere 13 minutes later.
Despite the early hole, the Seahawks had their share of opportunities to cut into the lead. None more so than Adolfo Aguilar’s in the 35th minute, a penalty kick following a Chapin foul in the penalty box.
Though Aguilar thought right with his approach, the kick strayed too wide to the left, an unfortunate circumstance that left Myrtle Beach down 2-0 at halftime.
“That could’ve really been the nail in the coffin,” Himmelsbach said. “But I’m proud of how we responded after that and got back into the game.”
A more attack-minded group of Seahawks took the pitch in the second half, holding a large share of the possession, and – more importantly – starting to see some breaks go their way.
It’s a tough way to lose a game, especially one for a state championship; there’s no possible way to sugarcoat it. I’m really proud of my guys and the way they responded against a good team. To be down like that in the first half and really win the battle in the second half and concede a late goal, they have nothing to be ashamed of.
Myrtle Beach soccer coach Jason Himmelsbach
Following Chapin’s second foul in the penalty area, Myrtle Beach’s Abdul Mashrifov coolly booted his free shot into the back of the Eagles’ net, cutting their lead to 2-1 less than 10 minutes into the second half.
Moments later, a long attempt from Foster Russell bent its way past the Chapin net minder to tie the game at 2.
The next 20 minutes would see the teams engage in a personal version of tit-for-tat, neither really able to gain an advantage. However, the one time it did, Woodham made the most of it.
“We had to stay true to who we are, what we do,” said Chapin boys soccer coach Ben Bosco. “… We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Myrtle Beach, their two best players, their two strikers, we knew eventually they were going to score. We had to respond to it, and found a way to win.”
For the Seahawks, the loss put a damper on what was one of the best seasons in program history. Despite such accolades, the sting from Saturday’s loss in the state title game is sure to last for some time.
“It’s tough, we fought hard to come back, and I think we could have put the game away,” said senior midfielder Elijah Rice. “But, those unlucky goals did us in.”
▪ Goals: Chapin: Cooper Woodham 2, Matthew Greco. Myrtle Beach: Abdul Mashrifov, Foster Russell
▪ Records: Chapin 22-3; Myrtle Beach 22-4-1.