The Fort Mill boys’ soccer team is fighting for its playoff life. A shutout loss to the Clover Blue Eagles made it a Code Blue situation and now the Jackets need a win — STAT.
Fort Mill (5-8 overall and 1-5 in Region IV) lost to the Blue Eagles 3-0, leaving no room for error in the playoff hunt.
“We still got a shot,” said Fort Mill head coach Phillip McCarter. “We control our own destiny. If we win the final two games, we are in.”
The Jackets came into the game with just one region win, while Clover was at 2-3 and looked to even its region record. Both teams battled for possession in the early going, with neither taking an obvious advantage. Clover’s offense kept the Jackets defense on their toes and was able to maintain control for the first 10 minutes of the game.
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Fort Mill did get a clear look at the goal about 12 minutes into the game, but wasn’t able to score as Clover once again grabbed control. The Blue Eagles then took the ball and maneuvered it down field giving Ethan Stevenson a good look at the goal as he put Clover up 1-0 about a minute later.
The goal gave the Blue Eagles a boost of energy as they continued to key in on the ball and maintain a stronghold on possessions. As the first half wore on, Fort Mill’s opportunities increased with the help of throw-ins and corner kicks, but still struggled to penetrate the Clover’s back line.
In the second half, Fort Mill controlled possession to open, but again struggled to move the ball into the open lanes to get good shot attempts. Fort Mill had good looks and even bounced a corner kick off the top crossbar, but couldn’t find the back of the net.
Clover’s control wasn’t as strong in the second half, but it didn’t need to as it nursed the 1-0 lead. The Blue Eagles concentrated their efforts on defense to keep Fort Mill out of the goal. Clover did have the same luck as Fort Mill about 12 minutes into the second half, when the Jackets bounced another shot off the crossbar.
While Clover’s chances were fewer in the second half than in the first, it did take advantage of one possession as Brandon Malcolm put the Blue Eagles up 2-0 scoring with about 20 minutes left in the game. With about 7:30 left in the game, Clover’s Jose Ariza added a third goal off a penalty kick to put the final nail in the Jackets' coffin.
“We are still fairly young and we are learning,” McCarter said. “Our effort wasn’t as good as it needed to be.”
Up next for Fort Mill to finish off the regular season are games against Rock Hill and rivals Nation Ford. Clover will finish the regular season with Rock Hill and Northwestern.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @MacBanksFM