Erin Wolfe prodded in the only goal Tuesday night as No. 3-ranked Fort Mill beat Clover 1-0 in girls’ soccer.
The win gives the Yellow Jackets a two-game lead on second-placed Clover and the inside track to a Region 3-4A title.
“This was a big game,” said Fort Mill coach Chris Quinn. “This is a great team that gives us fits offensively and I couldn’t be more proud of my back line. We work really hard on defense for shutouts.”
Clover - with at least five underclassmen starting - fought and scrapped the entire 80 minutes. But Kelsey Geary’s team was undone by one moment of loose marking when Wolfe got free to score the winner in the 50th minute.
“When you play Fort Mill you know it’s always gonna be a battle,” she said. “I think we gave them everything we’ve got tonight. We played with a lot of heart.”
After a pretty uneventful first half, Meredith Christopher nearly opened the scoring for Fort Mill six minutes into the second period, digging the ball out from beneath her feet and scuffing a poke off the left post. Annika Ford blasted her follow-up over the goal from close range.
Fort Mill’s Clemson commit Kimber Haley took her shot at breaking the deadlock, working a short corner kick routine with Christopher before blasting a shot that Clover keeper Carmen McCarter parried away to safety.
Clover carved out its best chance of the game when J’menii Isaac slipped a pass through to onrushing strike partner Selah Gaylor. But Gaylor couldn’t square her hips and sliced the shot wide. Wolfe popped up just moments later for the decisive goal in a match with few clear-cut offensive opportunities.
Wolfe has played soccer with several of her teammates, including fellow junior Christopher, since third grade. So she knew where to be on Christopher’s free kick from the left wing about 10 minutes into the second half. Christopher - committed to Elon - delivered the ball to the back post and Wolfe nudged it over the line with a deft touch for the game-winner.
“She knows where I want the ball and I know where she wants the ball,” said Wolfe.
Fort Mill got a bit of a humbling in a 2-1 loss to Weddington - the No. 1 3A team in North Carolina - about a week ago and the Yellow Jackets were sharp defensively against Clover.
The Yellow Jackets largely quieted the Blue Eagles’ promising attacking pair, Isaac and Gaylor, for their 10th shutout of the season. Wolfe said Fort Mill’s defense was the reason her team could go pretty deep into the 4A playoffs next month. Fort Mill’s coach agreed.
“I’m just so happy for them with how hard they work,” said Quinn.
Clover’s McCarter made a couple of nice saves to keep the game close, the best of the bunch when she palmed a first half rip from Wolfe over the bar for a corner.
Goal aside, Wolfe had a solid game, as did Christopher, who was dangerous from dead balls.
“She can float around the field,” Quinn said about Christopher. “We give her a little autonomy out there to find the open space. Like true forwards, there is 20 minutes of nothing and 20 minutes of really good, and that’s what we like. That’s what we ask from her.”
Clover plays at Rock Hill High on Friday and at Northwestern next Tuesday. Fort Mill makes the short trek to rival Nation Ford on Friday before facing Rock Hill next Tuesday.
Fort Mill 1, Clover 0
Scoring: Erin Wolfe, Fort Mill (50)
Shutout: Emily Ambrose, Fort Mill
Records: Fort Mill 12-1-3, 6-0 Region 3-4A; Clover 10-4, 5-2.