After a dominate second half for the Fort Mill girls’ lacrosse team, senior Auri French wouldn’t be denied.
Seconds earlier French pulled herself off the ground after falling due to a Byrnes Rebels’ penalty setting up what would the game winning overtime goal with a one-on-one shot against the Byrnes goalie. The Rebels goalie never had a shot against a determined French.
The game winner gave Fort Mill a 16-15 second round playoff win and advanced them to next Monday’s Upper State championship game where they will host the Riverside Warriors at 6:30 p.m. The win puts Fort Mill’s record at 9-7 overall on the season.
“Auri continuing to step up will carry us far,” said Fort Mill head coach Kirsten Terry. “We have great leaders on the field and on the sidelines.”
French scored five second half goals and accounted for five of the six goals Fort Mill scored in the second half. The Jackets led 10-9 at the half and Byrnes came out to score two goals to take an 11-10 lead with about 22 minutes left in the game.
French then took the game in her hands and scored three consecutive goals to put Fort Mill up 13-11 with about 13:30 left on the clock. Byrnes, who recently won their first ever playoff game earlier in the week, wouldn’t go away quietly. The Rebels clawed their way back in the game and cut the Jackets lead to one at 13-12.
“They are a good team,” Terry said. “We came out a little underestimating them.”
Fort Mill would again try to pull away with a goal from French and Lydia Laney, who scored the other second half goal for the Jackets. However, Byrnes again rallied to tie the game at 15-15 with 2:20 left before the clock ran out and forced overtime.
In overtime, both teams traded possession several times, but defensively, both goalies were on point as to not let anything past them in the first 2:24 of the extra period. Then the foul on French occurred with about 36 seconds left setting up her penalty shot.
The Lower State Championship match-up for next week will see Chapin travel to Wando. If Fort Mill can beat Riverside, they would face the winner of the Wando-Chapin match Saturday, April 30 at Irmo High in the 5A state championship game. Fort Mill has lost to both Wando and Chapin earlier in the season.
Mac Banks: firstname.lastname@example.org, @fortprep