IRMO – Wando had a chance to win the first two Class AAAAA state soccer championships Saturday night.
The Warriors went 1 for 2, as the top-ranked boys team won the first-ever AAAAA state title with a 1-0 win over J.L Mann.
Coach Shilo Tisdale's 27-0 Warriors used a goal from Charlie Marino to win their seventh state championship.
Wando's girls, also battling J.L. Mann, played their fourth straight overtime game in the playoffs. But coach Shannon Champ's team lost by 2-1 after the match went to penalty kicks.
Class AAAAA was created last year as the S.C. High School League went from four classifications to five.
The two elite girls programs met in a championship game for the fourth time in the last five seasons. J.L. Mann was making its fourth consecutive appearance in the finals, having beaten Wando two years ago.
“Hat’s off to Wando,” said J.L. Mann coach Tasos Georgopoulos, whose team had a 4-1 edge in the penalty kicks session. “We knew we would have great opposition. Any team that makes it to the state championship, it’s not by accident.
"It could have gone either way. Both keepers did fantastic job. It came down to penalty kicks, which is a shame, but we are happy to win.”
Champ’s Wando squad closes the season with a 19-3 record. Saturday night was Wando’s 10th finals appearance in the last 11 seasons.
“I couldn’t be prouder,” said Champ, who has won six state titles at Wando. “I thought they battled for the entire game. This was our fourth game in the playoffs that we’ve gone to overtime.
"We were a young group and we were not expected to here. We overcome some things during the playoffs and I am just proud of my team for the toughness that showed in getting here.”
The matchup had a little of everything – great scoring efforts, remarkable play play in goal, and even a wrestling match with a player ejection.
A skirmish near midfield with under four minutes left in the first half resulted in J.L. Mann playing the entire second half and overtime periods with one less player on the field.
Wando’s Zoe Jenkins and Mann’s Erica Manfre got tangled up on the ground and became physical, resulting in Manfre receiving a red card.
After a scoreless first half, the Patriots grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 46th minute when Caroline Conti rifled a shot from the right side, 22 yards away, to beat Wando keeper Aubrey Myers.
Four minutes later, Wando’s Sami Meredith provided the equalizer, beating three defenders for possession of the ball and tapping in a goal from 15 yards out.
Wando threatened with solid looks on goal throughout the second half, but either missed wide or was turned away by J.L. Mann keeper Lauren Seedlock.
In the penality kick phase, Seedlock swatted away shots by Meredith and Bailey Champ, setting the stage for the Patriots to clinch the victory.
“At the end of the day, when you get to penalty kicks, anything can happen,” Champ said. “Sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don’t. This just wasn’t our night.”
Wando had only three seniors on the roster and Champ says the playoff experience gained this season will benefit future teams.
“We have the potential to be right back here and that will be our goal,” the coach said.