FORT MILL — Both Fort Mill High School’s boys’ and girls’ lacrosse squads have played their way into the Upper State title matches.
A huge second quarter by the No. 1-ranked Fort Mill boys and senior Mitch Russell helped to give the Yellow Jackets a 16-7 lacrosse win over Riverside last week to move to Tuesday’s Upper State championship.
Fort Mill’s boys will host Greenville on Tuesday for the Upper State championship at Bob Jones Stadium while the girls travel to J.L. Mann in Greenville to play in their title match. The boys game is at 7 p.m. The start time for the girls hasn’t yet been announced.
Russell scored eight goals in the game, including six in the second quarter; Fort Mill posted a total of 10 goals in that quarter to open a gap Riverside never recovered from. Russell also had four assists in the game.
“We had to fix a few things,” said Fort Mill coach Steve Nadolski. “After we got the first couple (goals) in, it started to really take off. We aren’t a real serious team, but the second the whistle blows, they know what to do.”
Fort Mill opened the second quarter by scoring three goals in the first five minutes.
Russell then scored unassisted about a minute later, and senior Ethan Gray scored 40 seconds after that to start pulling away from Riverside, forcing a timeout from the visiting school.
Fort Mill sophomore Gage Pulliam then scored as well, with two more goals by Russell and a third goal by Gray giving him a hat trick before a second timeout from Riverside with Fort Mill up 9-1.
The timeout didn’t help Riverside. Russell and the Jackets came back out of the break to score again, giving the senior five goals in the first half. He added two more before the end of the half as Fort Mill went to 12-1.
Fort Mill kept scoring once the second half started – but not with as much fury. Junior Tyler Lozinski gave the Jackets a lead, prompting a running clock, but the scoring didn’t stop there; Gray and Russell scored again.
The Jackets pulled their starters after the third quarter as Riverside started to score, making the game look closer than it was.
Fort Mill struck first with a goal from Gray on an assist coming from Russell, getting the Jackets on the board just under three minutes into the quarter.
Riverside came back about two minutes later to tie the game at one, before Russell scored to give Fort Mill the lead at 2-1 with just under 2 minutes, 30 seconds left to play.
Fort Mill 16, Riverside 7
Goals: Riverside – Harrison Meltzer 3, Jake Bertka 2, Ryan Cerino 2. Fort Mill – Mitch Russell 8, Ethan Gray 4, Matt Somjak, Gage Pulliam, Tyler Lozinski, Ryan Hopper. Records: Riverside 10-5, Fort Mill 12-3.
Fort Mill 8, Hillcrest 7: The fifth-ranked Yellow Jackets squeezed out a win as freshman April Tankersley scored with 8.6 seconds left to break a 7-7 tie, giving Fort Mill a victory over sixth-ranked Hillcrest and sending the Jackets to the Upper State Championship Tuesday.
Fort Mill trailed most of the game and into the second half, not leading in the second half until the final eight seconds.
“My team has it in them, and they have to play and want to win it,” said Fort Mill coach Emily Tobin. “Obviously my team had it in them, but they didn’t want to start out tough, and hopefully they will learn from this.”
Hillcrest double- and triple-teamed Fort Mill star seniors Kirsten Terry and face guarded Claire Frase. The Rams jammed the lanes and crowded the net, keeping Fort Mill frustrated.
The game started off with both squads going back and forth to tie each other at 2-2, before the Rams went on a three-goal advantage going up 5-2.
Fort Mill bounced back with a goal from Terry, her second of the game to make it 5-3 with about nine minutes left in the first half
Just under a minute later, the Jackets kept the rally going as Anderson added a goal to make it 5-4 before a Hillcrest timeout.
The rally ended there as Hillcrest added another goal from Christy Beaman with just over five minutes left.
Up by two starting the second half, Hillcrest’s Kenzie Reid scored 55 seconds into the second half to put the Rams up 7-4.
Fort Mill stayed close with Frase’s second goal of the game at 18 minutes, 22 seconds, in the second half.
With a slim lead, Hillcrest tried to milk the clock by going to a four-corners-type offense as the game ticked under 10 minutes.
That worked when the Rams had the ball, but without it, Fort Mill continued to fight back. With about 4:30 left in the game, Terry scored to again cut the Hillcrest lead.
Jackets’ sophomore Maddie Anderson then tied the game at 7-7 under a minute later.
Fort Mill 8, Hillcrest 7
Goals: Hillcrest – Christy Beaman 2, Katie Tuten, Lanie Bishop, Taylor Hames, Jessica Bauguess, Kenzie Reid. Fort Mill – Kirsten Terry 3, Claire Frase 2, Maddie Anderson 2, April Tankersley. Records: Hillcrest 13-2, Fort Mill 8-5.