By JOHN SMITHSON
A few rain showers swept through the North Myrtle Beach area but couldn’t dampen the start of the 30th Michael B. Nash Memorial Soccer Tournament on Friday night. This year’s edition of this scholarship fundraiser got underway on time, as eight girls teams and six boys teams began play over two days to crown a tournament champion. Once again the tournament was held at the city of North Myrtle Beach Sports Complex.
The girls were to play first at 5:30 p.m. and the six boys teams that entered the tournament followed with games at 7:30 p.m.. The tournament finished up on Saturday evening with the girls team from Bluffton winning the championship. Socastee beat Carolina Forest 4-0 for the boys championship.
The North Myrtle Beach girls soccer team got underway 30 minutes late in their first match Friday with Conway due to transportation issues for the Tigers. The Lady Chiefs opened their season with three seniors, nine juniors, six sophomores and two freshmen. They also opened the season with their first goal, then added another goal near the halfway point of the first half for a 2-0 lead. The Chiefs ended up winning the game by that same score.
On an adjoining field St. James met Fox Creek and won 9-0. Carolina Forest also got off to a good start with a 3-0 win over Hartsville. Bluffton got their tournament started with a 3-0 victory over Socastee.
The boys games began at 7:30 p.m. on Friday evening. The North Myrtle Beach Chiefs beat Conway 3-2. Socastee beat Hartsville 6-1 and Carolina Forest beat St. James 4-1.
The teams came back on Saturday morning for the second and final day of competition. The girls games started at 10:30 a.m. Socastee shut out the Lady Chiefs by a 4-0 score. Fox Creek beat Conway 5-2. St. James beat Hartsville 13-2 and Bluffton won 3-2 on penalty kicks after the game ended tied 2-2.
In the boys competition the Chiefs and St. James played a scoreless first half, but the Sharks outscored the Chiefs 2-1 in the second half for their win. Socastee beat Conway 2-1 and Carolina Forest beat Hartsville 5-2.
Later Saturday afternoon in the final girls games, Hartsville beat Conway 4-0 for seventh place. Fox Creek shut out North Myrtle Beach 2-0 for fifth place. Carolina Forest won 4-1 over Socastee for third place. In the championship game, Bluffton beat St. James 2-1 in overtime. St. James was trying to win its third straight championship in the tournament before losing.
In the boys division the Conway Tigers beat Hartsville 1-0 for fifth place. The Chiefs and Sharks both forfeited in their third place game. That left Socastee and Carolina Forest playing for the championship and Socastee won 4-0.
The Michael B. Nash Tournament was started following the tragic death of Michael Nash, who was a North Myrtle Beach High School student and member of the soccer team. The event was first held in memory of Nash, and this year’s thirtieth tournament continues the tradition of inviting teams from around the state to play. Money raised by the tournament sponsorships is used for scholarships.