Fort Mill's Kaitlyn Marr heads the ball as Mauldin's Gracie Boswell defends on the play in the first half Monday at Fort Mill in the Class AAAA Upper State championship. Mauldin scored twice in overtime to beat the Lady Yellow Jackets 3-1 and earn a berth in the state title game.
“Red card” is probably the last phrase a soccer coach wants to hear.
It means a player is ejected and must sit out the next game unless a review shows it should be overturned.
But overtime has to be a close second. That's just what No. 3 Fort Mill and No. 2 Mauldin got on Monday night in their standoff for the Class AAAA girls Upper State championship at Fort Mill.
Mauldin scored in both 10-minute overtimes and came away with a 3-1 comeback win over the Lady Yellow Jackets.
“This is a sad way to end our season,” said Sara Borer, a backup forward and the only Fort Mill senior. “The girls have everyone back except for me and should make a run at the state championship next year. I hate I won't be part of it, but I'll be here pulling for them.”
For a while it looked like Fort Mill's first-half goal might hold up.
The first 40 minutes was a defensive standoff, with shots hard to come by for Fort Mill not quite as hard for Mauldin. The Lady Mavericks spent the majority of the half on Fort Mill's half of the field and fired several shots that lacked enough steam to get past Lady Jackets' goalie Alexis McLaine.
At the 21:35 mark, Fort Mill (17-6-1) got the chance it had been waiting for, but Ashton Wolfe was cut off on a breakaway when Mauldin stole the ball.
Mauldin (18-2) got off a pair of shots over the next three minutes, but McLaine was in position and made the stops.
The silence stopped at the 33:30 mark. Fort Mill all-state player Taylor Parker took an assist from Jessica Tooley and lifted a floater over head of Mauldin goalie Morgan Hert.
The ball settled into the right corner of the net, giving the Lady Jackets a 1-0 lead that held up until the half. It was one of three shots on goal all night for the Lady Yellow Jackets.
But the half ended tough for Fort Mill.
Parker went down hard near midfield at the 36:32 mark after what appeared to be a shove from behind. She was attended to by Johnson and Fort Mill athletics trainer Ben Merritt.
Parker got up on her own, but limped off the field between Johnson and Merritt. She was back when the second half started, but went down on her own less than three minutes in and headed straight to the metal trainers table for attention. She was on and off the field the rest of the game.
“It really hurts when your top player gets hurt and is not at 100 percent,” Fort Mill coach Vic Johnson said. “We count heavily on her to control the ball and score. It might have been different if she hadn't got hurt.
“But we made around five mistakes in the back and let them score. Five in 100 minutes are not that bad, but against a team like Mauldin, you can't afford any mistakes.”
Mauldin finally struck back with less than 15 minutes to play in regulation. At the 64:42 mark, Lady Mavericks all-stater Sarah Schaidle's shot from right of the goal barely missed the left post. Taylor, who was on the sideline, immediately went back into the game.
Just over a minute later, Schaidle scored from in front of the goal and tied the game at 1-1.
Neither defense gave the rest of the way, and regulation ended same as the game started — dead even.
Mauldin struck first, getting a goal from Allison Nelson off a direct kick with a minute remaining in the first overtime. Nelson kicked the ball just over McLaine's outstretched hands from 21 yards out.
That wasn't the end. With 7:45 left in the second OT, Nelson slid the ball past McLaine again, this time on a penalty kick from inside the box for a 3-1 lead.
So it's back to the state championship for Mauldin, to play Wando at Columbia's Memorial Stadium. Wando beat Mauldin in last year's championship game.
“This is so exciting for all of us,” Nelson said. “We were down late, but we knew we could come back and win. We had to get back to the state.
“We were pulling for Wando to beat West Ashley tonight. A rematch is all we've talked about all day long.”