Fort Mill, the No. 1 seed in Region 3, got a great start to the Class AAAA girls soccer playoffs. Ashton Wolfe scored twice, Hayley Hatherly assisted on two goals, and the Lady Jackets easily beat Lancaster, 4-0.
Fort Mill, ranked No. 7 in the latest Class AAAA poll, improved to 15-5-1 overall. Lancaster was the No. 4 seed out of Region 4-AAAA. The Lady Bruins finished the season with a 14-8 record.
Fort Mill was aggressive on the offensive end from the start.
"One of our problems is scoring. We had opportunities but didn't finish a lot," Fort Mill coach Vic Johnson said. Johnson is in his first year at Fort Mill after serving as an assistant at Nation Ford last year. He coached at Charlotte's Myers Park High School prior to that.
"We have a really good defense and midfield. We work our butts off up front to score," Johnson said.
Fort Mill tallied 18 shots on goal in the match and limited Lancaster to just one.
Fort Mill scored in the seventh minute when Kaitlyn Marr used her right foot for a tap-in goal assisted by Taylor Parker. The first goal of the evening opened the door for the Lady Jackets. The next six minutes kicked it off its hinges.
Hatherly, a freshman, assisted on the next two goals in a two-minute span. The first dish set up Wolfe. The second came quickly, allowing Abbie McDonald to push a shot past Lancaster goalkeeper Tarah Tipton.
"I saw an opportunity to split the defenders and I put it right on (Wolfe's) foot," Hatherly said.
Fort Mill is a young and talented team with just one senior on the roster. The Lady Jackets won't use youth as an excuse, though. They expect to win, and Monday wasn't the team's best game of the year.
"There is room for improvement," said Wolfe, a sophomore midfielder. "We want to keep winning. We really want state."
Fort Mill has been ousted from the playoffs the last three years in the quarterfinal round. In 2005, the Lady Jackets played for a state title but came up short in a 4-3 loss against West Ashley. The 2004 season ended with a semifinal loss to Mauldin. The Lady Jackets have been a No. 1 seed six consecutive years.
"We are a good team. We can play anyone in the state," Johnson said.
Fort Mill led 3-0 after 13 minutes of play and the score held through the first half.
Lancaster's first, and only, shot on goal came more than 25 minutes into the match. Morgan Farrar dribbled through Fort Mill's defense to fire a shot from about 15 yards. Lady Jackets keeper Alexis McLaine easily made the stop.
Fort Mill was able to score even off its miscues.
In the second half, Wolfe worked against a Lady Bruins defender to the right of the goal. With a step advantage, her crossing pass was too deep for any of her teammates. But the ball curved into the upper left corner of the goal, giving the Jackets a 4-0 advantage.
Sarah Thomas scored the final goal of the night for Fort Mill. The Jackets fired away several shots before Thomas punched the ball into the goal from short range in the 77th minute.
The win sets up a revenge match at home Wednesday against Spartanburg.
Fort Mill lost at Spartanburg, 2-1, earlier this season. With the game tied at 1, the Lady Jackets had a go-ahead goal erased by an offside call. The Vikings scored with a minute left in the match and Fort Mill had a potential game-tying goal skip off the crossbar in the closing seconds.
Johnson said he didn't care who his team played next. But he certainly remembered a lot of details from the Spartanburg loss.
Johnson said he has tape of the game and he thinks the goal that was taken away. The offside penalty was iffy at best, he said.
Spartanburg, a No. 3 seed, was a 2-0 winner at Wren on Monday.