It started off ugly for Fort Mill, and despite a valiant effort it never got much better, as the Wando Warriors beat the Yellow Jackets 13-6 on Cecil Woolbright Field at Chapin High for the boys’ state lacrosse championship April 25.
The two have made a habit of meeting in the state finals the past few seasons. The Jackets and Warriors traded wins the previous two years, with Fort Mill taking home the crown in 2014.
This was No. 1-ranked Wando’s fourth consecutive title-match appearance. The Warriors defeated the Jackets 17-5 earlier this season on the way to an 18-0 record.
That season-opening loss by Fort Mill (12-3) foreshadowed the finale, as the Jackets found themselves in an 8-0 hole in the first half.
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“Our offense is really young this year, and Wando comes out fired up and it’s really hard to dig out of a hole like that,” said Fort Mill head coach Stephen Nadolski.
“It’s hard to go back-to-back. We have gotten better as the year went on, but we just ran up against a team that got better as well.
“I couldn’t have asked for more from the guys that have been here. The kids learned a lot from the process.”
Fort Mill was led by seniors Tyler Lozinski and Matt Somjak, who both scored hat tricks and combined for all of Fort Mill’s goals.
Coming out with a comfortable lead to start the second half, Wando played more of a passing game, taking its time to set up shots and melting time off the clock.
The Warriors forced Fort Mill to move quicker on offense, and Lozinski scored his second goal of the game about 9:25 into the third quarter; however, the Warriors won the faceoff and went back to milking the clock.
Defensively, Fort Mill played better in the second half, but the Warriors avoided unforced errors, denying the Jackets opportunities and making it difficult for Fort Mill to get any momentum on offense, as Wando’s defense stayed on the attack, gobbling up ground balls.
Wando extended its lead midway through the third quarter, as senior Andrew Phelan scored his second goal of the game. Phelan led all scorers with four goals for the Warriors.
Fort Mill added one more goal before the end of the third quarter, as Lozinski notched his third with the Jackets playing a man up.
Wando came out firing to open the game, scoring just 17 seconds in on a goal by sophomore John Kuisel, and never looked back. The Warriors won the faceoff and came back to score 40 seconds later, this time by sophomore Ryan Lipsky, the first of his three goals in the game. Wando added four more goals in just seven minutes.
Wando 13, Fort Mill 6
Wando 4 4 3 2 – 13
Fort Mill 0 2 2 2 – 6
Goals: Wando – Andrew Phelan 4, Ryan Lipsky 3, Riley Seay 2, John Kuisel, Cole Hartley, Gavin Howley, Ham Brower.
Fort Mill – Tyler Lozinski 3, Matt Somjak 3.
Records: Wando 18-0, Fort Mill 12-4.