Tonight brings an end to an era in Wando girls soccer that can only be described as golden.
Five seniors will play in the fourth state championship of their brilliant careers when the Warriors battle Mauldin at 7 p.m. for the Class AAAA state title at Memorial Stadium in Columbia. The talented quintet includes Chloe Urig, Susannah Murray, Madeline Fellabom, Jennifer Riley and Jenna Pye.
Urig, Fellabom and Pye have been starters since Day 1 of their freshman seasons, while Murray and Riley were lettermen that season and were in the starting lineup their sophomore seasons.
The players have a 115-8-5 record during their careers and have won four region titles, three Lower State titles and two state titles. The Wando is 25-1 this year. But all that matters tonight is the one game left to play.
The Warriors beat the Mavericks, 2-1, two years ago for the state title. Last year, Mauldin returned the favor, posting a 2-1 decision to end the Warriors' two-year run as state champs.
"I guess you could say this is the rubber game of the series," Wando coach Shannon Champ said with a laugh. "No matter what you call it, it should be a great match. Mauldin always provides great competition. They have a great program."
The same can be said of Wando. The Warriors have been No. 1 in the state all season and have been in the top five nationally in some prep polls. Part of the reason is the five seniors who are playing in their fourth state championship match.
"They know the system. They know what to expect," Champ said. "More importantly, they know what it takes to win -- and how to win. They know it takes a lot of hard work. It's not unusual to find a freshman or sophomore asking them for advice."
In four playoff games this season, the Warriors have outscored the opposition, 20-0.
Wando has allowed just one goal all season, smashing the state record (5) set by Bishop England in 2004. The Warriors should finish third on the all-time list for goals scored in a season. Wando has 159 heading into tonight's game. Mauldin scored 175 in 2000 and Spring Valley scored 165 in 1997, according to Palmetto's Finest, the official publication of the High School League.
The Warriors are going for their eighth state title. Riverside has the most girls soccer titles in state history with 12, while Bishop England has nine.