FORT MILL -- Fort Mill senior Ashleigh Sheets said her team didn't have a problem with motivation for Tuesday's match against neighborhood rival Nation Ford.
"We mentioned right before the game how big this was," Sheets said after assisting on one goal and scoring another to lead Fort Mill to a 3-1 victory.
"First of all, this was Senior Night; then, this would be 50 straight wins in the region; and finally, this is against Nation Ford, which is the first of many rivalry games. We wanted Fort Mill to start with the lead."
The Lady Yellow Jackets made history with their 50th consecutive region victory and also as the winner of the first match between the rivals. And in the process, Fort Mill clinched at least a share of another Region 3-AAAA title.
Having many players evolved from the Fort Mill program, the Lady Falcons appeared motivated. They flirted with the upset when sophomore Nicole Parks scored within the first four minutes of the game.
The early deficit only fired up Fort Mill, which applied unlimited pressure on the Lady Falcons' defense. After several shots on goal, the Lady Jackets (13-2-3, 11-0 Region 3-AAAA) finally got a break.
Sophomore Becca Tooley controlled a loose ball, which rolled out of the arms of Lady Falcons goalkeeper Kelsey Blair. Blair blocked a shot from Sheets, only to lose control of the ball, which Tooley dribbled into the wide-open net at the 23:00 mark.
Fort Mill's momentum continued two minutes later when Tooley booted a perfect pass to Megan Killmeyer, who fired a shot into the net between two defenders.
Nation Ford (10-3-1, 8-3) didn't quit and remained within a goal late in the contest. Fort Mill kept up the solid defense, though, and the Lady Falcons finished with only two shots on goal and no corner kicks.
The Lady Jackets weren't able to breathe easy until the 76:00 mark, when Sheets broke ahead of the Nation Ford defense and booted the decisive goal.
"A lot of credit goes to them," Fort Mill coach Jim Finnerty said. "They gave a tremendous effort."
Nation Ford coach Ben Jacklin said Fort Mill's experience and skill made the difference.
"We are a brand-new school with no seniors, and only six of our girls ever played club soccer. So we just do not match up against them real well," he said. "Fort Mill consistently has one of the best programs in the state; most of our players played at Fort Mill last year, so there was a lot of pride out there tonight.
"And now, many of our girls are frustrated, but we have to be patient, keep working and improving.
The loss dropped Nation Ford into a second-place tie with Clover and Northwestern.