Soccer ball

For all of the dominant results, all the blowouts and a boatload of shutouts, the Myrtle Beach girls soccer team had yet to prove one thing to its coach so far this spring.

How would the Seahawks play in an important game when they didn’t have a lead?

Blair Mueller loved the answer.

Bimpe Oduwole’s header with about 90 seconds left in regulation erased the final bit of a second-half, three-goal deficit, and Myrtle Beach went on to a 4-3 overtime victory against Hilton Head at Doug Shaw Memorial in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs.

“I was thinking ‘This is not good,’ and we’re not going to get ourselves out of a hole that we dug this far,” Mueller said. “We really haven’t been behind. We haven’t been scored on that much … I had to change up something to get a spark. They knew what to do, they just had to do it.”

Hanna Weissman scored her second goal of the night (and 30th of the season) nine minutes into the first overtime period. It was the home Seahawks’ first lead of the night, and one that would hold for another 11 minutes or so of extra time.

It completed a comeback for the ages for a team that has frequently struggled against the power programs come playoff time. The actual effort to win this game, though, will likely be the bigger story.

Hilton Head standout Miya Poplin, the Seahawks’ best player, scored 25 minutes into the contest when she put a ball past Myrtle Beach goalie Asia Smith from 22 yards out. 

It was the first time Mueller’s team had trailed since a loss at Hoggard (N.C.) on March 13. What happened in the seven weeks between that loss and Wednesday’s game against Hilton Head was a fantastic run in which Myrtle Beach outscored opponents 84-1, beat its 10 region foes by an average of seven goals per game and set itself up for potential homefield advantage throughout the lower state finals.

All of that seemed like it was over minutes into the second half, when Hilton Head’s Valentia Palacio Ruiz, scored, or 11 minutes after that, when Sarah Neville’s goal made it a 3-0 lead. 

However, right about then is when Myrtle Beach started playing like it has for most of the season.

Wendy Arneberg drilled a penalty kick to finally get the Seahawks on the board with about 22 minutes left in regulation. Five minutes later, Weissman took a perfect cross from Maggie Lambert.

And then Oduwole sent the game to extra time with her score off a long Springs assist.

Of the four total goals Myrtle Beach score, three were assisted by long passes.

“That’s what we work on,” Weissman said. “That’s what our skill is.”

It showed, and because of it, Myrtle Beach’s season will continue. What’s more, Mueller’s team can put a checkmark in another category.

“We definitely can play with the Hilton Heads of the world,” she said. “They just had to know that. Our history with the bigger schools in the playoffs is that we get there and hit a wall.”

They burst through it this time around.

Myrtle Beach will play host to South Aiken on Friday in the third round. Win there, and the Seahawks could get as close to a potential state championship appearance as any team in Horry County history.

“We had the determination to go far,” Weissman said. “If we work like we did at the end of that that second half, I don’t think there is a team that can stop us.”

Contact Charles D. Perry at 843-488-7236

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