It was a banner year for high school boys soccer in the Lowcountry, with two area teams — Hilton Head Christian Academy and Beaufort Academy — capturing state championships, two more among the top teams in Class 3A (Bluffton and May River), and Hilton Head High making a deep run in the Class 4A playoffs.
All that team success was built upon tremendous individual performances, making it all the more difficult to narrow down the top players in the area.
After soliciting nominations from area coaches and exchanging countless messages with a few of them, the list was trimmed to the top 27 players — 11 first-team selections and 16 honorable mentions — to form the inaugural All-Lowco Boys Soccer Team.
The competition for the final spots was fierce, and selecting the last player for the first team was agony (as a couple of local coaches can attest). A handful of players who just missed the cut for the first team or the honorable mention list certainly could make a case to be included, but keeping the list shorter makes the honor greater. These players were the best of the best in a great year for local soccer.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Misael Garzon, MRHS
In just two years, Garzon has built May River into a state championship contender. The Sharks entered the second season of their existence ranked 10th in Class 3A — an achievement in itself — but climbed all the way to the top of the rankings after winning 18 of their first 19 matches. They split with rival Bluffton and claimed the Region 8-3A crown on goal differential. Two of their four losses came to eventual Class 3A runner-up Bishop England. And with only two seniors on the roster, they figure to be one of the frontrunners to claim the state title in 2019.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Mikey Chappelear, MRHS
May River’s opponents had two choices — focus extra attention on Chappelear and force someone else to beat them, or let him do it himself. Chappelear finished his junior campaign with 31 goals and 10 assists, giving him 42 goals and 23 assists in two seasons since May River opened its doors. Only five times all season did he fail to register a point.
ALL-LOWCO FIRST TEAM
F: Joel Fleek, MRHS
Ranked second on the team in goals (26), assists (13), and points (65)
F: Evan Berkner, HHCA
Lander signee led SCISA 2A champion Eagles with 25 goals
F/MF: Sebastian Laverde, JPII
Split time between midfield and forward and finished with 17 goals and seven assists in 16 games
MF: Mikey Chappelear, MRHS
Tallied five hat tricks, including a six-goal game against Battery Creek
MF: Hernan Gomez, BLHS
Junior collected 17 goals and 11 assists for Bobcats
MF: Alexis Jimenez, BLHS
Senior scored 13 goals and added 12 assists for Class 3A Lower State finalists
MF: Carson Webster, HHCA
Dynamic midfielder collected 11 goals and 12 assists, including game-winning goal in SCISA 2A state championship match
D: AJ Kestler, MRHS
Anchor of strong back line helped Sharks limit opponents to 1.54 goals per game
D: Matthew McCutchen, HHCA
Queens (N.C.) signee anchored defense that recorded 11 shutouts
D: Evan Ventrice, BLHS
Tallied nine goals and nine assists while anchoring Bobcats’ back line
GK: Hector Zelaya, BLHS
Posted an incredible 0.68 goals against average and recorded 20 saves in win over rival May River
Jacob Beach, HT
Myron Carter, BHS
Dawson Coleman, BA
Conner Golden, MRHS
Thomas Holladay, BA
Nick Kabiri, HHIHS
Nick Lewis, MRHS
David Mathai, BA
Lukas O’Grady, HHCA
Gabe Orta-Carillo, JPII
Ben Richardson, JPII
Andrew Rico, HHIHS
John Risley, HHIHS
Ben Trask, BA
Ty White, BCHS
Addison Wilson, HT