Four unanswered goals in the second half of the 5A girls’ lacrosse state championship by the JL Mann Patriots led them to a 7-5 win over Fort Mill.
The Jackets (14-4) held a 4-3 lead at the half, and scored just seconds into the second half, but the Patriots (18-3) rattled off four straight goals to come from behind after the initial goal.
Once JL Mann tied the game, Fort Mill head coach Kellianne Wunk said the momentum slipped away from her squad.
“That momentum shift of getting down and them getting up by a point got into the girls’ heads,” Wunk said.
The meeting between the two teams was the second one this year with Fort Mill taking the first meeting 6-5 in the Jackets fourth game of the season.
JL Mann opened the game with a goal, but Fort Mill was quick to strike back to tie the game. The Jackets were led by Wallace Cortazar, who scored three goals getting a hat track in the game, and opened things up for Fort Mill.
Fort Mill controlled possession for much of the first half, but the Patriots took advantage of their possessions and went up 2-1 with about 10 minutes left in the first half.
Cortazar came back and scored to tie the game at 2-2 with 7:32 left. Then her sister, Morgan, scored about a minute later to again give Fort Mill the lead.
The Patriots once again tied the match at 3-3, but Fort Mill’s Charlotte Anderson would put them up 4-3 heading into the half.
The Jackets seemed to be in a comfortable place after Wallace Cortazar scores to open the second half at 5-3, but Fort Mill’s defense had some key let downs leading Mann to rally from that point forward.
Wunk said the Patriots experiences they had in previous championships games helped their momentum shift, especially after they tied the game. This was Fort Mill’s second appearance in the state finals and first since 2012. For JL Mann, the team was looking to win their fifth title in six years.
“We made some silly mistakes and errors along the way,” Wunk said. “The fact they made state appearances before gave them a little advantage going into this game. They were able to handle the pressure and stay composed a little better than our girls were.”
In the second half, the Patriots defense collapsed in on Fort Mill and cut off the lanes the Jackets used to try and drive the ball toward the goal. JL Mann also controlled the game much as Fort Mill did in the first half by taking advantage of their possessions.
Despite the loss, Wunk said this can be a growing experience for her team heading into next season.
“They are going to be gunning for it again next year,” she said.