MOUNT PLEASANT — For the seventh consecutive season, the Wando boys soccer team will play for the Class AAAA Lower State Championship.
The Warriors utilized goals from five different players to post a 6-0 third-round victory over Ashley Ridge on Saturday afternoon at Wando Stadium.
The win marked the second straight game in which the Warriors exacted revenge on an opponent that beat them in the regular season and sets up a match at South Aiken on Tuesday.
The Swamp Foxes defeated Wando, 3-2, in overtime on March 20.
“When the playoff brackets came out … we saw that Ashley Ridge is one we may go through,” said sixth-year Warriors coach Shilo Tisdale. “It was an exciting time because we had an opportunity for revenge against Lexington, and then we knew if (the Swamp Foxes) could get through, that we’d have an opportunity to get them back.”
Ashley Ridge coach Nate Harris’s game plan stressed defending with numbers in what was an unsuccessful attempt to squelch Wando’s potent attack.
It worked until the 14th minute, when Hamilton Carlin one-timed a low cross from Brock King for his ninth goal of the playoffs and team-leading 17th of the season.
The junior forward assisted on the next goal eight minutes later. With two defenders closing in, James Appleby used a quick side-step to create space and rifle the ball into the far corner past an outstretched Swamp Foxes goalkeeper Stockton Blanchard.
Impressive combination play in the box resulted in a 3-0 halftime lead for the Warriors, courtesy of Mitchell Scott. Chris Corontzes assisted on the tally.
“If we score first, then we can sort of force them out of their game plan,” said Tisdale, who also praised his squad’s possession. “We really moved the ball around well.”
Waldo Cepeda, Sanders Dargan and Appleby added second-half goals to round out the scoring.
With sustained possession in the Ashley Ridge half throughout the game, Wando outshot the Swamp Foxes by a 17-4 margin. Twelve of the Warriors’ shots were on target.
When Ashley Ridge did press forward, the Warriors’ backline and goalkeeper Hunter Greer calmly diffused the threats.
The Swamp Foxes’ 18-6 final record is indicative of the team’s remarkable turnaround after finishing at the bottom of the Region 7 standings last season.
“It’s very tough to end on something like this because, these guys forget, last year we were dead last in our region,” Harris said. “If we give it some time, it’s just an amazing accomplishment.”
WANDO 6, ASHLEY RIDGE 0 Goals: Wando – James Appleby 2, Hamilton Carlin 1. Mitchell Scott 1, Waldo Cepeda 1, Sanders Dargan 1. Shutout: Greer.
Records: Wando 26-3. Ashley Ridge 18-6.
Next: Wando travels to South Aiken on Tuesday in Class AAAA Lower State Championship.