Regional Champs: Sandcrabs blank Sunlake to advance to Final Four
The Sandcrabs had only one shot on-goal in the first 29 minutes of their regional final match against Sunlake — a header by midfielder Nate Thompson that clipped the right post. The Seahawks fans in attendance were loud and proud despite the intense mist that enveloped the field at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex.
Seabreeze’s Jaden Collins felt like he needed to respond to the visiting crowd.
His goal celebration? Collins rushed over to where the Seahawks’ fans were sitting, put his index finger to his mouth and shushed them.
“They were just a little bit louder than our crowd,” he said. “I had to quiet them down a little bit.”
Seabreeze is back in familiar territory after holding Sunlake scoreless in a 3-0 win on the night of Wednesday, Feb. 14, that vaulted the Sandcrabs to the Region 2-3A title for the second year in a row. The Sandcrabs knocked off the Seahawks in the regional final on their way to the state championship last season as well.
Seabreeze coach Nate Murphy said his team has a special ability to execute the game plan.
“That’s what this team does,” he said. “We can come up with something in two days, and by the time it’s game time, they know how to do it. We’re a special team. They can adapt really well.”
And despite leading the Sandcrabs to the Final Four in each of his two seasons as the head coach, this season is likely Murphy’s last with the team. Murphy’s wife, who is an attorney, got a job offer in the Tampa area. He informed the team of his probable departure at the beginning of the season.
His players want to send him out with a championship.
“We want to do it for him,” said team captain Franco Perez, who scored the game’s final goal at the 18:50 mark in the second half. “If it is going to be his last year, we just want to make a memorable one.”
Perez said that in order to do that, the Sandcrabs have to keep pushing past adversity.
“At the end of the day, it’s about keeping our composure, making sure our heads are screwed on right and putting the ball in the back of the net,” he said.