A flurry of goals in the second half was the spark the West Ashley boys soccer team needed Thursday night to beat Dutch Fork in the Class AAAA playoffs.
The Wildcats, ranked No. 6 in the state, put up three goals in as many minutes midway through the second half and topped it off with a fourth with 15 minutes to go to defeat the Silver Foxes, 4-0, at Wildcat Stadium.
The Wildcats next travel to Wando on Saturday for a 7 p.m. game.
Senior striker and Wildcats co-captain Dylan Guice netted two goals and now leads the team with 26 on the season. Cooper Newman and Matt Kennedy each added a goal.
"We needed to pick up the intensity in the second half," said Guice, reflecting the scoreless tie at halftime." We had a lot of shots in the first half that just weren't going in. We needed to pick it up, start some new traditions and get going. And, that's exactly what we did, and that's when the goals started to come."
Senior goalkeeper Evan Whetsell now has 11 shutouts this season and has allowed only 1.07 goals per match. He is one of the top returning players for the Wildcats, who have 13 lettermen and nine starters back from last year's team.
The Wildcats are now 16-7-1 this season with plenty of senior leadership but not much depth on the bench, which could hurt them in the later rounds of the playoffs.
"Honestly, we're tired and we don't have a deep bench like most teams we face, so we really have to work hard," said West Ashley coach Stephen Jackson. "Now we'll get back to work, watch some film, make some adjustments and really rest up for Saturday's match."
Saturday's matchup against No. 2 Wando will be no easy task for the Wildcats. Based on the bracket draw, West Ashley may once again meet state powerhouse Irmo in the semifinals. But, the Wildcats have to get past Wando first.