The Lady Yellow Jackets made the necessary adjustments in the second half, then got the go-ahead goal late in the second overtime period to beat Spartanburg 2-1 in the second round of the Class AAAA state girls soccer playoffs Wednesday.
Fort Mill hosts Dorman, a 2-1 upset winner over Spring Valley, tomorrow.
Seventh-ranked Fort Mill (16-5-1) tied the game in the 67th minute to force overtime. Freshman forward Jessica Tooley got the game-winner from short range and the Jackets held on for the final two-plus minutes to move on in the playoffs.
Tooley said she had trouble getting open throughout the game. She was a bit surprised when the scoring opportunity presented itself late in the match.
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"I saw the ball at my feet and I had to take my time," Tooley said.
She did have a few seconds to gather herself and the ball. Once settled, she wasted no time kicking it into the far corner past Spartanburg keeper Natalie Rainer.
Fort Mill coach Vic Johnson wasn't surprised Tooley scored in that situation. He pointed out Tooley's goal late in a match against Clover earlier this season.
That goal was big; this one was bigger.
"That's what she does. She has a knack for the goal. That's why she was in there at that moment," Johnson said. "We were not the better team tonight. We got lucky and we out-worked them in the second half. Spartanburg took away everything we wanted to do. We had to play ugly to win."
Spartanburg went ahead early in the match. The Lady Vikings scored in the sixth minute off a corner kick. The ball came into the box from the right side where the Vikings got a quick touch with a foot.
It was enough to leave Fort Mill keeper Alexis McLaine out of position. Ashley Long had an easy punch-in to give the Vikings a 1-0 edge.
Later in the first half, Fort Mill lost defender Hayley Hatherly to a back injury. Hatherly assisted on two goals in Monday's win over Lancaster.
The Lady Jackets spent the rest of the first half disorganized on offense. Their passes were repeatedly picked off by the Vikings defense. Fort Mill had just one shot on goal in the first 40 minutes.
Johnson talked to his team at the intermission and made some changes.
"We had to adjust and went to a 4-3-3 in the second half. We had to get the ball in their end of the field and hope to capitalize on their mistakes. I told the team to just go out, play ugly and win," Johnson said after the game.
Fort Mill looked more aggressive almost immediately. Taylor Parker passed across the mouth of the goal to the feet of Madison Paff in the 42nd minute. Paff tried to make a move but the ball was cleared before she could do so.
Parker, Fort Mill's junior captain, found herself alone with the ball to the left of the box in the 54th minute. She opted to take one extra touch before serving the ball in for a teammate. The defender closed and the ball was lost.
She made up for it by scoring the equalizer in the 67th minute. Fort Mill executed a through pass to Parker. Double-teamed, she stayed with it and placed her shot past Rainer to tie the game at 1.
Fort Mill, now focused offensively, had three more chances to win the game in regulation.
They showed patience in the 72nd minute to find Paff open for an 18-yard shot that was saved by Rainer. Next, Parker took a direct kick from about 25 yards and banged it off the crossbar.
Moments later, in what was the Jackets best scoring chance of the night, Parker raced downfield after a ball. Rainer gave chase outside of the box. Parker controlled the ball and took a few touches to set up a potential game-winning shot.
The goal was left vulnerable, protected by a pair of Viking defenders scurrying into position. Parker fired from the deep right side of the box but missed wide left. Regulation time expired soon afterward.
McLaine made a nice save in the 88th minute catching an arching shot by the Vikings and holding the ball far out in front of her as her back foot crossed the goal line. Another Spartanburg shot hit the outside of the goal as the first 10-minute overtime period came to a close.
Spartanburg finished with a 15-4 record and a No. 5 state ranking. They made the playoffs as the third-seed from rugged Region 2.
The Vikings beat Fort Mill, 2-1, in the regular season on a late goal. Fort Mill had a chance to tie it in the closing seconds when a shot ricocheted off the crossbar.
In other Class AAAA action, Clover lost to TL Hanna on penalty kicks and was eliminated. Hanna will travel to Mauldin on Friday. Mauldin beat Ridge View 5-1.
Fort Mill got a break with Spring Valley's loss. If Spring Valley had won, the Lady Jackets would be on the road. But Fort Mill will host because it's seeded No. 1 and Dorman is a No. 2.