At the beginning of the game, as two local powerhouses were about to do battle, Socastee boys soccer coach Memo Suarez shouted to his team in a huddle, “This game is all about who wants it more.”
As it turns out, the Braves did.
Six different players scored goals as fifth-ranked Socastee knocked off top-ranked Myrtle Beach 6-2 on Tuesday.
Despite all their success, Suarez keeps his players humble.
“No, I tell my kids not to even listen to that anymore,” Suarez said of rankings. “We just play the game, and win every game on the field and forget about the seedings, and standings, and just win every game from now on and you’ll be ok, guys.”
Having lost their last game against Myrtle Beach in a penalty kick situation, the Braves were not about to let the Seahawks win an eighth straight match in the series.
“We were much better prepared this time than ever before, and we were ready for it,” Suarez said. “We performed well, it showed. All this hard work we have done for the last two or three weeks, it showed up in this game, so it’s a big win for us.”
The Braves established dominance quickly, scoring two goals early in the first half. Myrtle Beach answered back with a goal, but by the end of the first period Socastee had added two more to reach a halftime score of 4-1.
With a renewed sense of energy, the Seahawks scored quickly in the second half, but that would prove to be their final tally as the Braves scored two more to seal the win.
All of Socastee was there to see it as well, with the fan presence being overwhelming at Braves Stadium.
It was a resounding win for the Braves in front of a raucous crowd.
“Tonight, they showed up,” Suarez said. “I would say they contributed a lot. They knew the situation that we were in because we lost to them in penalty kicks last time, and we could have come back, so it was a huge help for us.”
When asked if intimidation was a factor in hosting a team that had outscored its last three opponents a combined 15-1, Suarez brushed the idea aside.
“Actually, it was not,” Suarez said. “We had the advantage, with them coming to our house, that was one big factor, and not only that, but the loss we had against them, it was a good loss, we learned many lessons. We were fatigued due to back-to-back games against St. James and we came back stronger so we knew that we could beat these guys and we proved it tonight.”
As the Braves were closing in on the win, a random fan shouted at Suarez, “I love you Suarez, I can live with 6-2,” at which point the coach, not even looking up, shook his head no and held up seven fingers.
The Braves didn’t get that seventh goal, but came away with plenty of confidence as the season winds down.
“Even before the game, I told my guys to play with confidence and with courage, so they played very confident tonight, they showed me that, and the confidence continues,” Suarez said. “The confidence to win this game, it was there. Our coaching staff, our players, we work so hard to establish that, so right now we’re very confident moving forward.”
Connor Norton-Baker, Wesley DuRant, Dimitris Leftis, Donald Asllanaj, Jonathan Ford, and Fisnik Cake all scored for the Braves.