COLUMBIA — As the T.L. Hanna girls soccer team celebrated its first-ever Class AAAA state championship Friday night, the Wando team slowly walked off the playing surface with heads hung low and tears in more than one set of eyes.
The Warriors’ attempt at a three-peat was denied by the Yellow Jackets in a 2-0 setback at Columbia’s Memorial Stadium. Wando was trying to win a ninth state title since 1994, while it was T.L. Hanna’s first attempt at a title.
“This was absolutely Hanna’s night,” Wando coach Shannon Champ said. “They played well from the first whistle and brought great intensity and energy. For whatever reason, we lacked that type of energy and intensity and it hurt us. We had a great season but they had a better one.”
Wando was also attempting to exact revenge for their only loss of the season, a 1-0 setback to this same T.L. Hanna team in the season opener. Both teams had 10 shots on goal and both goalkeepers recorded three saves but it was the Yellow Jackets (27-2) ability to capitalize on two set plays that turned out to be the difference.
Chelsea Drennan, a junior All-State performer that has already committed to South Carolina, opened the scoring with a goal that ended up getting a bit of help from a Wando defender. Drennan’s header off of a corner kick in the 13th minute went off the lower part of the crossbar and deflected down off a Wando defender into the right corner of the net. Wando goalkeeper Logan Nelson tried to clear the ball on the corner kick but Drennan was there for the header on the deflection.
“They won almost every ball in the air,” Champ said. “We battled and fought in the box and it was a little discouraging when they won ball after ball.”
The second goal came in the 71st minute when Christina Barrington headed in a throw-in from Baylee Gillmore. Wando had three shots on goal after the second goal but it was too little to late for the Warriors as their attempt to win a fifth title in six years fell short.
“We knew Wando wasn’t going to stop attacking after we scored one goal,” T.L. Hanna coach Katelyn Davis said. “After we got that second goal I felt much better and knew it was going to be hard for them to fight back in such a short amount of time.”
Both coaches credited the Yellow Jackets defense with a stellar performance that turned out to be the difference. In 160 minutes between the two teams, the Warriors (21-2) were unable to find the back of the net.
“Hanna is very solid in the back line,” Champ said. “We couldn’t get behind them and that cost us some scoring opportunities.”
The Yellow Jackets used the same the back line the entire game that was led by senior goalkeeper Tatiana Guarin. She recorded three saves but Wando had limited scoring opportunities on their ten shots on goal.
“Our back line works so well together and cover for each other,” Davis said. “Our defense never gets the credit it deserves. In soccer, everyone wants to talk about offense but our defense got us to this point and they showed why against a very explosive offensive team. To hold them scoreless over the course of two games is totally unbelievable.”