High School Sports

Soccer playoff opener doesn't go Battery Creek boys' way

The Dolphins were seeing red Tuesday night.

A red card late in the first half sent Battery Creek defender Thomas Hunter to the sidelines and North Myrtle Beach sent the Dolphins off, 4-0, in the first round of the Class 3-A boys soccer playoffs at Battery Creek High School.

Hunter was whistled for taking down a North Myrtle Beach player headed for a goal with about 10 minutes on the clock in the first half.

"What (the referee) ruled is, when he is the last defender and he takes away the goal-scoring opportunity, it's a red card," Battery Creek head coach John Perry said. "I asked for verification of the rules twice. I'm not criticizing. It is what it is."

As the teams headed to their respective sidelines with North Myrtle Beach holding a 1-0 lead at the half, Battery Creek coaches were involved in an animated discussion with officials at midfield.

With the Dolphins down a goal and a man to start the second half, the Chiefs quickly put the game out of reach.

Senior midfielder Ian Fellenz scored twice in the first five minutes of the second half to push the North Myrtle Beach lead to 3-0. Rhoan Reid closed the scoring eight minutes later for the Chiefs.

"Thomas Hunter is the heart of our defense; he takes charge of the defense and it hurt us with him not on the field," Perry said. "I tell them they have to keep their heads in the game. We got (them) out early. Once you get (them) out early, it's hard to get (them) back. It's hard to win. It's hard to come back 50 minutes into an 80-minute game."

Despite the tough ending, there were bright spots this season for Battery Creek. After a 12-4-1 regular season, the Dolphins hosted the first boys home playoff game in school history.

Key players William Lopez (sophomore), Manny Gonzalez (junior) and Robert Sanders, a junior who came on strong at midseason, will be back next season. And Lucas Basuino, an exchange student, also should return, Perry said.

"It's one of the best seasons we've had at the Creek," Perry said. "We have a lot of lowerclassmen, and 15 of them will go to camps next year. We have improved our level of play and we've been invited to a preseason tournament. That's never happened here before."