MOUNT PLEASANT — Wando High School began this girls soccer s eason with a loss to Upper State power T.L. Hanna.
The Warriors will get a chance to end it with a victory over the same team, this time with a third straight state title on the line.
Led by two goals from senior Jane Vardzel, Wando won the Class AAAA Lower State title Tuesday night with a 3-1 victory over a game West Ashley squad at Wando Stadium.
The Warriors (20-1) will take on T.L. Hanna for the state championship at 7 p.m. Friday in Columbia.
T.L. Hanna, which beat Riverside, 1-0, for the Upper State title on Monday, took a 1-0 victory over Wando in the Viking Cup in March.
“That was our whole motivation,” said Vardzel, who will play at Charleston Southern next fall. “T.L. Hanna took the Viking Cup from us, so we’re going to take the state cup from them.”
Against West Ashley (17-7), Vardzel provided the go-ahead goal in the 46th minute with a neat give-and-go from junior Hannah Ross. Senior Nora Bishop played the ball forward, with Vardzel passing to Ross, then getting the ball back to slip a shot inside the left post.
“I give all the credit to Hannah on that one,” Vardzel said. “She did a great give-and-go around the defender, and it was an easy finish after that.”
Freshman Raymara Barreto made it 3-1 in the 62nd minute, looping in a left-footed free kick from about 30 yards out. She had an ever longer goal disallowed in the first half when a Wando player bumped the keeper.
Wando went up 1-0 about 12 minutes into the match, when Vardzel lined a shot into the near corner from the 18-yard line. The Wildcats answered just two minutes later, as Mary Shirley chipped in a shot on a breakaway to knot the match at 1, where the score stood at halftime.
“I thought West Ashley set the tone early,” said Wando coach Shannon Champ. “They got most of the 50-50 balls and kept us on our heels a bit.”
Wildcats coach Drew McNeely’s team, starting just two seniors, had not been scored on in the playoffs until Tuesday night.
“The fact that we were able to get this far with such a young team is something the girls should feel good about,” McNeely said.