Fort Mill dominated possession but Riverside scored three goals against the run of play to drop the No. 1 seed Yellow Jackets out of the girls’ soccer postseason in Monday night’s first round.
Sophomore Riley Dankel scored the winner for the Warriors, whose 3-2 victory pushes them into a second-round meeting with Blythewood.
“Our region is strong, but you have to give someone credit for being No. 1, finishing undefeated, and we knew we had to be ready,” said Riverside coach Carley Victor.
All four Region 3-4A playoff teams lost Monday night. But Fort Mill (12-4-3), which went undefeated in region play, might have been the most surprising. The Yellow Jackets battled back from a 2-0 deficit, but still fell in overtime.
“We’ve never been down like that all season,” said Fort Mill coach Chris Quinn. “But I’m real proud of the girls and the way they played. They gave more than I could ever expect to come back from being down like that.”
Fort Mill had its share of misfortune in the first half, hitting the crossbar twice. Alyssa Smith got around the outside on the left and her floated ball skimmed the bar, before Riverside (9-9) scrambled clear. And Meredith Christopher rattled her team’s second crossbar with a 30-yard thump in the 29th minute.
“If hitting the goal-post was a score, we’d be champions of the world,” Quinn said.
It all went haywire for Fort Mill in the last six minutes of the first half.
Riverside was first to a majority of the first half 50-50 balls and it was that tenacity that put the visiting underdogs in front. Warriors left back Jackie Marshall seized upon confusion in Fort Mill’s backline by running through several tackles, beating Fort Mill keeper Sam Whitley to the ball and sliding a low finish inside the right post for a 1-0 lead.
That goal shocked the Yellow Jackets. Maybe stunned is the word to describe the hosts after Riverside scored again in the waning moments of the half. A Riverside shot was blocked by a Yellow Jacket defender but fell right into the path of Hannah Barnett, who drilled a low finish into the left corner for a 2-0 advantage. Fort Mill’s shoulders collectively drooped.
Considering the youth of the team – only two seniors saw action Monday night – Fort Mill’s second half renaissance seemingly came from nowhere. The Yellow Jackets didn’t get their first shot on goal in the second half until 20 minutes in.
But just as the Yellow Jackets fell apart in a six-minute spell during the first, Riverside did the same in the second. With 11 minutes left in regulation, Ashley Hogge cut in from the left and fired on goal, keeper KodiJean Johnson pushing the shot away for a corner kick. Madi Blaschke met the ensuing corner with a firm header that crept over the line despite Johnson’s efforts, halving the deficit to 2-1.
And the equalizer came with 5 minutes left. Kayla Dietz controlled at the top of the box and placed a shot into the corner to make it 2-2 to the screaming delight of her teammates.
The first 10-minute overtime passed without incident, but Riverside scrounged up a winner in the second. A long ball over the top beat the Fort Mill defense and while Whitley was able to stop the first shot, Dankel’s follow-up found an empty net for a 3-2 Warriors lead with 3 minutes to play.
Almost as soon as Riverside’s players finished hugging one another, Dietz had a gilt-edged chance sneaking in one-on-one with Johnson at the other end, but the keeper headed to Newberry on scholarship held her nerve and denied Dietz’s shot to hold the lead and the win for the Warriors.
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T