Nation Ford’s Aiden Wiltkopf celebrates after scoring the game winning goal during Saturday’s playoff game.

Nation Ford’s Aiden Wiltkopf scored the game winning goal for the Falcons with 45 seconds left as they edged the JL Mann Patriots in the second round of the 5A boys’ lacrosse playoffs Saturday.  

Wiltkopf gave the Falcons the 10-9 edge in a back-and-forth game for the win. The Falcons will now host the Mauldin Mavericks on the evening of April 23 for the Upper State championship.

Nation Ford head coach Cory Turner gave a lot of credit for the win to his defensive coach Matt Day.

“What he has done with the defense has been unbelievable,” Turner said.

Day said he knew Nation Ford could win if they won the battle with the sticks.

“We worked really hard this year,” Day said. “These guys did their jobs.”

JL Mann struck first scoring about three minutes into the game after a Falcons turnover.

Nation Ford evened things up with their first goal of the game by Trevor Keaton two minutes later.

The Falcons offense struggled in the first quarter opening the game up as the Patriots were able to get stops and catch shot attempts by Nation Ford.

Offensively JL Mann didn’t have a lot of opportunities either as the Nation Ford defense stifled their chances. However, the Patriots found a hole scoring with 8.7 seconds left in the first quarter to regain the lead.

The Patriots opened the second quarter scoring 25 seconds into play to extend their lead. Nation Ford had opportunities early in the second quarter, but was turned away on several occasions.

The Patriots extended their lead with 4:46 left in the first half to make it 4-1.

The Falcons controlled possession more in the second quarter and continued to pepper the Patriots goalkeeper. Finally with about four minutes left in the half, Hunter Nickola cut the JL Mann lead in half.

Nation Ford added another goal with about 80 seconds left before the half as Josh Ameo found the back of the net despite being double teamed.

The Falcons came out of the locker room with a renewed energy as Devin Moll scored for Nation Ford 26 seconds into the third quarter to tie the game at four. Nickola came back two minutes later to give the Falcons their first lead of the game at 5-4.

Ameo extended the Falcons’ lead with 4:38 left in the third quarter with his second goal of the game and third straight for Nation Ford.

The teams would trade goals before the end of the third quarter with Keaton adding another goal before the end of the period as the Falcons held on to a 7-6 lead entering the fourth quarter.

JL Mann tied things up about 90 seconds into the fourth quarter at seven and then took the lead a minute later. But Ameo came back to tie things up once again less than 30 seconds later.

The teams would continue to trade the lead as Keaton scored his third goal with 3:40 left, before JL Mann would again tie the game in the final 2:25.

April 20 Roundup

The Nation Ford softball team beat Rock Hill 14-2 in five innings as they improved to 8-1 in Region 3-5A and 12-4 overall. Tori Baldino led at the plate going 3-4 and Paizlei Ross went 1-3 with four RBIs. Jackie Knoll, Jill Hennessy and Brooke Ressler each had two RBIs in the win.

Mac Banks:, @fortprep

Trevor Keaton goes for a shot during the Falcons playoff game against JL Mann Saturday morning.