In a time when the growing sport of lacrosse is spreading like wildfire across the South, the Socastee Braves appear to be fanning the flames.
Serving as Horry County’s lone girls lacrosse program, the Braves have been doing so in style.
Socastee capped off coach Bill Gulledge’s final season with a 16-6 win over West Ashley on Saturday.
“We played a very good game,” said Gulledge, who has decided to retire. “We had a lot of our seniors who are finishing up their season here this year, nine seniors, and then we had all starters from next years who will be returning in the game on time and they were all scoring so we had a very good game overall. A lot of ball movement, a lot of helping each other and a lot of assisting.”
The Braves started off quick, scoring two goals within the first five minutes of game play. The Wildcats fought right back to tie it at 2. After that, it was all Socastee.
“This is one of the best [seasons] we’ve had,” Gulledge said. “We had the most experienced team this year than we’ve had in a couple years, because we’re losing nine seniors. Among those nine we’ve got tons of experience that will be leaving us after this season, so it’s been a really good team this year.
“Our starters included three or four freshmen, and they’re going to continue to get better and better each year,” Gulledge continued, “so the outlook is simply that this team as a whole will continue to get better and better.”
Gulledge has had his hands full, serving as Socastee’s only coach since the program’s inception from a club team in 2009. In those four years, he has coached a consolidated girls squad featuring girls from all over the district who otherwise would have no other place to play.
“Usually when you have a group of 25 girls together you can expect drama, and other issues like that, and we’ve just never had any of that this year,” Gulledge said. “Everyone works really well together and gets along with each other, and it’s really helped.”
Despite a successful season by Socastee (7-5), the season ended Saturday. Due to the Braves’ status as a combo team with a roster compiled of players from four different schools, Socastee is listed as ineligible from competing in the postseason.
“There’s nowhere for girls at Carolina Forest to play, there’s nowhere for girls at Myrtle Beach to play, there’s nowhere for girls at St. James to play,” Gulledge said. “As a coach and a father, it’s not fair to say these girls can’t play.”
With the popularity of lacrosse spreading more each day, it appears a feasible option for other schools in the county to follow Socastee’s lead and form new teams.
“Charleston is picking up two more teams next year,” Gulledge said. “They are going to have eight or nine teams in Charleston; they won’t have to come play us. We’re going to run out of people to play due to budget and travel expenses and whatnot. Being the only team in the county, we really need Horry County to step up and help us out, and start programs in our schools. ”