For the third straight year, the Fort Mill Yellow Jackets boys’ lacrosse team will be playing for the state title after beating the Riverside Warriors 7-6 for the Upper State championship at Bob Jones Stadium.
Fort Mill will play Lower State champion Wando Warriors at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Chapin High School for the state title. It will be the third straight year Wando and Fort Mill have played for the boys’ state lacrosse title.
Leading by just a goal to start the final quarter, Fort Mill went back to holding the ball and managing the clock.
Senior Tyler Lozinski got a hat trick scoring his third goal of the game with about seven minutes left to put Fort Mill up 7-5.
Riverside didn’t rest on its heels as it battled back and scored with about four minutes left in the game.
“It was nerve wracking, but I knew we could pull it out,” Lozinski said.
Fort Mill won the opening faceoff to start the second half, and despite holding the ball for about four minutes, turned the ball over where Riverside wasted no time in capitalizing by going down and scoring on a Drew Bertka goal.
Riverside tied the game two minutes later as Fort Mill started to struggle to hold on to the ball. Riverside senior Ryan Cerino tied the game by simply rolling the ball in from his belly as he laid out on the ground trying to recover a loose ball.
Fort Mill called a time out to regroup which worked as they came right back to score with Lozinski scoring his second goal of the game to give the Jackets the lead again.
Two minutes later, Riverside’s Clay Walters scored to tie the game at 5-5. Right before the end of the quarter, Fort Mill senior Matt Somjak scored his second goal of the game again putting the Jackets back in front as the quarter ended.
“As the pressure goes up, they continue to rise to the occasion, but we still have growing pains as well,” said Fort Mill coach Steve Nadolski. “Our defense hung in there.”
In the first half, Fort Mill managed the clock well and was able to control the game by controlling possession most of the time.
Fort Mill opened the second quarter winning the face-off and again took their time setting up a good opportunity, which resulted in Lozinski scoring to put the Jackets up 2-1.
“We know it’s going to take a while to score,” he said. “We aren’t a run and gun team.”
Riverside was called for a slashing penalty midway through the second quarter, giving Fort Mill the man-up advantage. The Jackets couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity, but maintained possession.
The Jackets got lucky twice in the quarter, each time getting turnovers from Riverside to keep the momentum in their corner.
With about two minutes left in the first half, junior Colin Crutchfield scored his second goal of the game to extend the lead. Crutchfield’s goal seemed to get Fort Mill’s energy going as Somjak scored again with about a minute left.
Riverside was able to get one goal back before the end of the first half to cut Fort Mill’s lead in half.
Riverside struck first in opening the game scoring just 1:15 into the game prompting Fort Mill to call a time out soon thereafter.
The Jackets, despite going down early in the opening quarter, controlled the clock the majority of time.
Fort Mill was able to get gather itself up and got back on the offensive as Crutchfield scored to tie the game at 1-1.
Fort Mill 7, Riverside 6
Goals – Riverside: Clay Walters 2, Ryan Cerino 2, Drew Bertka, Peyton Lambrecht.
Fort Mill: Tyler Lozinski 3, Colin Crutchfield 2, Matt Somjak 2.
Records: Riverside 13-3, Fort Mill 12-3.
Mann girls top Nation Ford in Upper State
lacrosse championship game
Caty Brown and the J.L. Mann girls earned an 18-2 win over Nation Ford in the lacrosse Upper State title at Slaton Field in Greenville.
Brown scored 32 seconds into the game and the Patriots (16-3) won their fourth consecutive Upper State championship. The Patriots will try for their third straight state title at 11 a.m. Saturday when they play either Wando or Bishop England at Chapin High School.
Mann has more Upper State titles than the relative neophytes from Nation Ford (12-7) have seasons under their belts. The third-year program had trouble keeping up with a team that has defeated 54 consecutive in-state opponents.
“This was tough,” Falcons coach Tom McNeil said. “It’s the first time we’ve met them. There’s a reason why they’re in the top three all the time. They’re very well-coached and they’re very disciplined. I was very impressed, and we’ll have a lot to learn from that film.
“The big thing is now they’ve got a lot to shoot for, so they’ll reach higher and keep learning.”
If anyone thought the Patriots might be somewhat disinterested after their hard-earned, 7-5 win over Hillcrest in the second round, they erased that notion with 12 goals in the first half.
“Even though last game was more competitive for us, this game, if we lose, we’re still out,” said Brown, who scored three times, “so it still means everything to us, because we want to make it back to state.”
Blakley Wilson led the Patriots with five goals. Taylor Williams had four, Luci Ellison three, Carly Hammond two and Ava Alvarez one.
Bob Castello, The Greenville News