Fort Mill and Nation Ford players battle for the ball during their game Tuesday at Bob Jones Stadium. Photos by Rob Upton.

Fort Mill head coach Mark Seren said his team had played well so far this season, but hasn’t been able to come away with the results he felt that play deserved.

The Yellow Jackets narrowly lost in the final minutes against non-region Catawba Ridge earlier this year before falling to Region 3-5A foe Clover just a few days ago in double overtime.

But on Tuesday, the stars aligned as Fort Mill secured a hard-fought 1-0 win over crosstown rival Nation Ford in a region matchup at Bob Jones Stadium.

Senior Brayden Hunsucker hit a right-footed effort in the 30th minute that caromed off the far post and nestled into the back of the Nation Ford net for the game’s lone goal.

Nation Ford slowly gained more momentum throughout the game and nearly equalized in the dying seconds, but a shot inside the Fort Mill penalty box was cleared off the line just moments before the referee blew the final whistle.

“I could see they were dumping numbers forward,” Seren said. “We’ve put in good play, we’ve just not had good results. We kept on giving them confidence, cleaned up some things, paid attention to detail. It’s a progression.”

Fort Mill enjoyed the majority of the possession and the chances in the first half.

Senior striker Braden Gritz whipped in a dangerous cross from the left wing in the 16th minute, but was unable to connect with two strikers rushing in at the far post. Senior Christian Young skimmed a shot just wide of the near post just three minutes later.

The Yellow Jackets finally opened the scoring in the 30th minute when junior forward Rory Nowicki floated in a long, looping cross. Hunsucker took a touch to control the cross, before unleashing a right-footed effort that caromed off the far post and nestled into the net past Nation Ford goalkeeper JJ Podlasek.

The Falcons’ closest effort came just four minutes before halftime when a Falcon striker nearly completed a flick-in from a free kick about 35 yards out from the goal, but Fort Mill keeper Nicky Gritz was able to snuff out the chance.

Nation Ford’s Akin Erin took a long shot from about 40 yards out to test Nick Gritz just after the halftime break, but Gritz took command. The Falcons eventually brought on four substitutes with 12 minutes to play. Nowicki nearly connected with Braden Gritz with a long cross from right to left, but Gritz was unable to touch the pass home past Podlasek at the far post.

Nation Ford piled forward in the final minute, with one Falcon knocking a ball loose inside the Fort Mill box, allowing a teammate to get off a last-second shot on goal in added time, but a Yellow Jacket defender was able to sweep the ball away from danger.

“You don’t score, you can’t win,” said Nation Ford coach Kenny Halas. “The first half was poor from us. We didn’t execute what we trained. There was a 10-minute part in the second half where the ball was stuck on the left side, and we had worked hard in practice to switch sides.”

Both teams continue the region schedule on the road on Thursday. Fort Mill will travel to Blythewood, while Nation Ford will play at Clover. Both games will kick off at 7 p.m. Nation Ford will host Fort Mill later this season Friday, April 19. 

The win improved Fort Mill to 4-1 in the region and 8-5-1 overall, while Nation Ford fell to 12-4-1 overall and 3-2 in the region.

A Yellow Jackets player splits two Nation Ford defenders for a header during their Region 3-5A match Tuesday night.