MOUNT PLEASANT -- It just wouldn't be a state title game without the Warriors.
Wando took care of Dutch Fork, 4-1, Monday to advance to its eighth straight Class AAAA girls soccer state championship game. The defending champions will face J.L. Mann on Friday at River Bluff High School in Columbia in a rematch of last year's title game.
"They're the measure of girls soccer in the state of South Carolina," Dutch Fork coach Mike Mauldin said of Wando. "That's a fact. You can't say anyone else has been on top the way they have been for a long time. Very skillful, very physical. They do an excellent job of putting pressure on their opponents."
Warriors freshman forward Hannah Betfort struck in the 13th minute, breaking through the Silver Fox defense and firing away from 36 feet to give Wando the first-half lead.
Dutch Fork (20-2) ramped up the intensity and pressure of its attack to match Wando in the second half. The Warriors took advantage of the aggressiveness at the other end, using their speed and athleticism to win the battle in front of the net and score three more goals.
"We are a second-half team," Wando coach Shannon Champ said. "They really surprised me with some of the things we did around the net. We took care of business there."
Midfielder Katie Leen scored on a header off the second bounce from a corner kick in the 45th minute. Brittany Heri floated a shot over the keeper's head from 60 feet out into the back of the net in the 54th minute to make it 3-0.
Two minutes later, Dutch Fork caught Wando out of position long enough for Emily Jermstad to squeeze in the first goal any team has scored against the Warriors this postseason.
But senior captain Allie Winglosky answered back for Wando in the 66th minute, converting a cross from Lyndi Helland off the bounce just a couple of feet out.
Champ says her team is still unpredictable, but she's been pleased with the way it has picked up its play in the postseason. She knows the makeup of a championship team and said her Warriors have shown it in the playoffs.
No. 1 J.L. Mann has held the top spot in the polls though much of the season. Mann (25-0) defeated Dorman, 1-0, Monday to advance to the state title game with a perfect season intact.
"Two weeks ago, I didn't feel like we were peaking at the right time," Champ said. "They've pleasantly surprised me, done a great job of executing and taking care of business the last four games. Now, I'm confident that we're ready for this last one."
Notice about comments: