Fort Mill didn't waste much time getting a lead and then posting a 4-0 win over Rock Hill on Tuesday in the first round of the Class AAAA boys soccer playoffs. The fifth-ranked Yellow Jackets held a three-goal advantage at intermission.
Fort Mill (18-6) will play the winner of the Wren/Hillcrest match Thursday. Wren is one of four No. 1 seeds in the Upper State and the team Jackets' coach Lloyd Chalker expects to play in the second round.
If that scenario plays out, it will be a repeat of last season when Fort Mill won, 3-0, at Wren in the second round.
"It's hard to play Wren. We don't play them or anyone in their region," Chalker said.
The coach was concerned before this game. He thought his team might take Rock Hill too lightly based on the 6-0 result they got earlier this season.
Chalker's worries were eased a little when David Walas' cross into the box found the right foot of JT Mula who pounded the ball into the back of the net near post At the 13-minute mark.
Chalker had to feel more confident 23 minutes into the game when Walas threaded a short lead pass to Kevin Fielden who used a left foot to score the Jackets' second goal.
Mula got his second goal of the game on a penalty kick at the 33-minute mark.
"That was good," Chalker said after the game. "We'll try to maintain that level on Thursday. We will take it one game at a time. We'll probably see Mauldin and Northwestern; It's not going to be an easy road."
Mula left the game in the second half. The senior with a nose for the ball took a shoulder to his smelling apparatus. Bloodied by his own teammate, he stayed on the sidelines to watch the last 20 minutes. He'll be back on Thursday.
Rock Hill finished the season with a 9-9-1 record. The Bearcats were outshot 27-11 and failed to capitalize on the few opportunities they had to score.
Michael Udeze fired a shot from 18-yards out in the first half that was on target but sailed high over the frame. Just before the half Phillip Raad's had a shot to the near post that was knocked away.
"We needed to play our best to win. I think we only played to about half our potential," Raad, a senior captain, said. "(Fort Mill) kind of closed down our midfield. We try to get break aways. That's how we've been scoring all year."
Raad's touches were limited against the Jackets. Fort Mill senior defender Joshua Mercadel had something to do with that.
"Defensively, we played the long ball well," Mercadel said. "That's what they tried to do in both games. They try to play over the top. I stayed back and we all cleaned up pretty well."
Mercadel will play soccer at Newberry College in the fall.
Rock Hill coach Wayne Clark talked before the match about how many chances his team had to score in the first meeting with Fort Mill and the need to finish shots on Tuesday.
"They were better than us, that was obvious," Clark said afterward. "We missed our chances. Good teams punish you when you make mistakes."
At Fort Mill
FORT MILL 4
ROCK HILL 0
FM -- JT Mula from David Walas, 13:00
FM -- Kevin Fielden from Walas, 23:00
FM -- Mula, penalty kick, 33:00
FM -- Casey Schneider from Shane Hogan, 81:00
Shots on goal -- Rock Hill 11, Fort Mill 27
Corner kicks -- Rock Hill 2, Fort Mill 3
Goalies -- Rock Hill: Michael Bobinski (11 saves), Fort Mill: Tanner Landvik-Larsen (4 saves), Mason Jackson (3 save)
Records -- Rock Hill 9-9-1, Fort Mill 18-6