It’s the kind of soccer match Shilo Tisdale likes to see: hard-nosed and gritty, with plenty of defense and toughness.
It’s not pretty, but it’s effective, Tisdale said about his Wando Warriors’ 2-0 victory over Dutch Fork.
As head coach, he's led the boys to back-to-back state championships in 2017 and 2018. Now, after Tuesday's Lower State win, the Warriors are looking for a third straight Class AAAAA title.
They knew it was going to be tough. Dutch Fork had already bested Wando in February to take home the Capital City Cup.
“I told our guys, ‘They finished your win streak. Let’s finish their season,’” Tisdale said. “That was our motivation, and we proved what we can do.”
Defense has been Wando’s calling card all year, including the team’s 3-0 shutout of Lexington on Saturday.
They needed that same intensity against the Silver Foxes, a team that knows how to score and had only allowed one goal through the first three rounds of the playoffs.
Neither team got on the board through the first 40 minutes of play and about a fourth of the way into the second half.
But with about 28 minutes remaining, the Warriors finally broke through. McCrady Andrews lobbed a cross up near the goal for Kevin Wray, who headed the ball in for a score.
Wray has scored in three of the team’s four playoff games this season.
“I knew as soon as my defender started to drift … if my teammate could set it up, I could bop it in,” the junior said. He set me up perfectly. And we just needed one. That was my mentality.”
With 15 minutes left, Owen Hamilton followed suit. On a back-and-forth exchange that included multiple deflections, Hamilton sneaked the ball past the Dutch Fork goalie, giving Wando its second score.
At the other end, Wando’s goalie, Logan McCoy, was a force for the Warriors, keeping Dutch Fork off the scoreboard.
“I told my friends this week that I wasn’t going to let them score,” McCoy said. “It’s been on my mind all week, and I knew I had to keep that same mentality today.”
Wando will face J.L. Mann in the state championship game Saturday in Irmo. The two teams have a recent, decorated history.
J.L. Mann defeated Wando in the 2015 state title game. But the Warriors got their revenge two years later, taking down the Patriots to win their 2017 championship.
“We’re hungry,” Tisdale added. “We’re willing to work harder than the other team. That’s always been our approach, and that’s how it’ll be on Saturday.”