LEXINGTON — "FQO!"
Three letters embodied a whole season for the Fort Mill High boys lacrosse team. Trailing 11-10 after the third quarter, the Jackets' faithful at White Knoll High for the state championship game started chanting, "FQO, FQO."
The letters stand for "Fourth Quarter Ours." Fort Mill outscored Greenville 6-1 in the final quarter for a 16-12 victory and its first state lacrosse title, ripping the title out of the hands of the Red Raiders, who have had a death grip on the state championship for the past five years.
"That was our quarter today," said Fort Mill coach Jim Van Blarcom. "It is exciting for our team. I am so proud for our kids. The kids played a heck of a game."
Fort Mill finished the season 15-2. with one of its losses being Greenville earlier in the season. This was just the second year the South Carolina High School League has recognized the sport, but it has been played as part of the South Carolina Lacrosse League for the past several years with local high schools sponsoring teams. Fort Mill has had a team for five years. The seniors on the Jackets squad have been part of the program since it began.
The game's tempo was back and forth until the Jackets dominated the fourth quarter. Junior goalie D.J. Quill made seven of his 16 saves in the final period.
The Jackets were led by senior Steve Blanchard with five goals and freshman Mitch Russell with three goals.
Russell said playing for his fellow teammates inspired him.
"I wanted to do this for the seniors," he said. "They have worked hard for this for so long. I wanted to give this to them. It feels great."
Greenville focused its defense on senior captain Parker Thomas for the majority of the game and kept him scoreless until the fourth quarter. It was Thomas, who will be going to Tennessee Wesleyan next year, which led the fourth-quarter charge, scoring the opening goal of the period for an 11-11- tie. Parker added another fourth-quarter goal.
"It wasn't easy," Thomas said. "They are one of the best coached teams in the state. The credit has to go to our coaches. They worked a game plan out. We knew if we kept it close, it would be ours."
Fort Mill led 5-3 after the first quarter.
Blanchard scored three of his five goals in the opening quarter to secure a hat trick.
The second quarter was more of a low scoring period as the two teams combined to score just three goals.
Tyler Namowicz scored Fort Mill's only goal of the second quarter. He had two for the game.
In the third quarter, momentum quickly swung Greenville's way as it regained the lead, taking a two-goal advantage.
Just as Greenville looked to pull away, Fort Mill fought its way back into the game with back-to-back goals from Blanchard and captain Tripp McKemey, who finished with two goals.
Greenville kept things close as the two teams fought for momentum. The Red Raiders led 11-10 at the end of the third quarter.
Thomas opened the fourth quarter with a goal 18 seconds into play to tie the game.Fort Mill scored the next two goals to lead 13-11, with goals from Russell and senior Kendall Moore.
The Red Raiders added one more goal to make it 13-12 to keep it close but the Jackets closed the game out with three more goals.
FORT MILL 16
G - Chris Reese, 9:50
FM - Tripp McKemey, 8:48
G - Josh Voyles, 7:41
FM - Steve Blanchard, 7:04
FM - Blanchard, 4:25
FM - Tyler Namowicz, 4:03
G - Andrew Milks, 2:55
FM - Blanchard, 0:25
G - Milks, 10:11
FM - Namowicz, 7:03
G - Milks, 2:48
G - Milks, 11:52
G - Walty Feisal, 9:43
G - Brandon Lowery, 8:56
FM - Blanchard, 8:23
FM - McKemey, 7:57
G - Reid Fawcett, 7:15
FM - Mitch Russell, 3:39
FM - Cody Harris, 2:56
G - Zack Poplin, 1:43
G - Reese, 0:21
FM - Parker Thomas, 11:42
FM - Kendall Moore, 8:40
FM - Russell, 7:59
G - Fawcett, 6:27
FM - Thomas, 5:50
FM - Russell, 3:34
FM - Blanchard, 2:47
Records: Fort Mill 15-2, Greenville 13-5