Wando boys, girls claim Lower State titles

Wando High School’s soccer teams both traveled to Lexington on Tuesday night, and both came away with Lower State championships.

The boys team avenged an earlier loss to River Bluff with a 4-3 victory as senior Josh Masten scored twice. The girls team rallied twice to take a 3-2 win at Lexington in a match that took two days, four overtime sessions and penalty kicks to decide.

The Wando boys (25-1) will play for their second straight Class AAAA state title against Upper State J.L Mann at 6 p.m. Saturday at River Bluff. The Wando girls (19-2) will play for their third straight title at 7 p.m. Friday at River Bluff, also against J.L. Mann.

Coach Shannon Champ’s girls’ team began their two-day odyssey on Monday, traveling to Lexington for a game that was suspended due to lightning with the score tied at 0-0 with about 29 minutes left to play.

The game picked up at that point Tuesday night, and Lexington scored after just three minutes to put the Warriors on the defensive.

“It was nuts,” Champ said. “But we kept our heads and stayed composed.”

Wando sophomore Hannah Betford scored to tie it at 1-1, but Lexington (24-2-1) scored again with just 15 minutes left for a 2-1 lead.

“After that, we were just trying to get everything forward,” Champ said.

With less than a minute left, freshman Makayla Mathewes got onto a ball played from the back line into the box. As the Lexington keeper came out, Mathewes headed the ball over her, and it rolled into the goal for the equalizer.

After 20 minutes of overtime and 10 minutes of golden-goal OT, all scoreless, the match went to penalty kicks. Lexington’s fourth try went off the crossbar, and Susie Pearce scored the 5-4 clincher for Wando.

“We had our hands full (Monday) with Lexington,” Champ said. “They had the better of play when the game was called. We drove home and talked a lot about how this was an opportunity to regroup and get on the same page, and the girls stepped up big time.”

This will be third straight meeting in the girls final for Wando and J.L. Mann, with Wando winning the last two by 2-0 and 2-1. Wando is playing in its ninth straight state final and has won six of the last eight.”

Down 1-0 at halftime and 2-1 in the second half, Wando’s boys also had to come from behind to beat River Bluff (20-4-1), the only team to defeat the Warriors during the regular season.

Masten, the All-Lowcountry player of the year last year, tied the game at 2-2 by flicking home a goal off a Sam Ross cross in the 48th minute. With about 16 minutes to go, Masten headed home a goal off a corner kick for a 3-2 lead.

Senior Nick Wright’s strike from 20 yards out gave the Warriors a 4-2 cushion that came in handy when River Bluff scored with eight minutes left.

Ross tied the game at 1-1 with a breakaway goal in the 43rd minute.

“We really gave our best effort,” said coach Shilo Tisdale, whose team has won three of the last four state titles. “We were not too concerned at halftime, because we were getting a lot of chances and not quite getting them on frame. We regrouped at halftime and knew we had plenty of time to pull out the win.”

Wando beat J.L. Mann by 2-0 in last year’s state final, while Mann bested the Warriors by 2-1 in the 2012 championship game.

“They are a very good team, very disciplined,” Tisdale said. “They have some key players we’ll have to keep an eye on.”