Fort Mill beats Clover with PKs
By Mac Banks
FORT MILL - Facing the number one team in the state is hard, but when that same team is number one in the country, the task is even harder. That quandary was exactly what the Fort Mill girls’ soccer team faced against the Clover Blue Eagles.
Fort Mill beat Clover 1-0 on penalty kicks as they bested the Blue Eagles 4-2 in the extra segment. The Jackets got goals from on the penalty kicks from Emily Ambrose, Emily Richard, Annika Ford and Katie Phillips.
Clover, ranked number one in the country by MaxPreps and USA Today, entered the game with a perfect 12-0-0 record on the season, while Fort Mill was a modest 5-2-2 at the start of the game.
Fort Mill head coach Kev Summers said he has been preparing his team for moments like this by playing as tough a competition as he can find.
“It is a pivotal point in the season for us,” he said. “I scheduled as many difficult games in North Carolina as I can. I am not interested in what our record is. I am interested in winning state championships. It is a new challenge for these girls this year. They are used to having a good record, but not as tough competition.”
In overtime, Fort Mill control the ball for the majority of play trying to spray shots at the Clover keeper, but wasn’t able to make anything happen as the game went to penalty kicks.
Fort Mill went right at Clover to open the game getting couple good looks at the goal in the first four minutes of the game, but it was as if the Blue Eagles knew what the Jackets were trying to throw at them. Clover defensively stifled Fort Mill during the time as the Jackets couldn’t control possession. Both teams got early free kicks for shots on goal, but neither converted.
As the first half wore on, neither team was able to gain much of an offensive stronghold on the other. Clover was able to start to control possession of the ball about midway through the first half as they aggressively played keep away from the Jackets. Clover was able to work their way through double and triple teams for much of the time they had possession, but still couldn’t find the back of the net.
With less than ten minutes in the first half, Fort Mill had their best looks getting the ball in the box only to have Clover suffocate their opportunity. They even put the ball off the top of the crossbar near the two minute mark before the half. Defensively, the Jackets were able to contain the Blue Eagles with a rather aggressive effort of their own.
The second half started much like the first as the two teams batted the ball around trying to gain some ground. Both teams equally controlled possession in the second half, but struggled because their defensive counterparts were just as good for each team.
Clover’s back line was key to their defensive effort as they didn’t allow Fort Mill to get close to the box in the second half, like they did in the first half. The Jackets got better looks as the game wore on in the second half, but the Blue Eagles defense was relentless for the most part.
Up next for Fort Mill is a game at home against South Meck and a road contest against Rock Hill.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @MacBanksFM