Here are Friday’s top soccer matches in the Midlands. The Heathwood Hall girls match at Swansea is on Thursday.
Wando at River Bluff
It’s a highly anticipated match between Class 4A No. 1 Wando and 3A No. 1 River Bluff. The traditional powerhouse Warriors (5-0-1) may not be familiar with the first-year Gators on the pitch, but they are aware of RB coach Phil Savitz. The Gators (9-1) are coming off a run of three wins over top Region 4-3A contenders, including a dramatic 4-3 win on Tuesday against Chapin. Malpartida Marcelo’s penalty-kick score in the final two minutes sent the match into overtime. Deany Connor’s rebound goal off a free kick was the game winner in bonus time.
Aiken at Lexington
It’s a first-place showdown in Region 5-4A. No. 10 Aiken (9-1, 2-0) has only faltered against Lexington (9-2, 2-0). The Wildcats were 4-0 winners in the championship match of the Cats Kick Cancer Kickoff Classic.
Spring Valley at Richland NE
Richland Northeast (3-5, 2-1) turned a corner last season, finishing with a winning record and make the state playoff cut for the first time in five years. The Cavaliers goal of challenging for at least a second-place finish in Region 4-4A will be put to the test in the next two games – games against Spring Valley and Blythewood (Tuesday). RNE split two confrence games with Spring Valley last season. SV (6-3, 2-1) has allowed just one goal in its six wins. The Vikings setbacks have come against Blythewood (twice) and Chapin.
Heathwood Hall at Swansea
It’s an interesting Thursday non-region match between defending SCISA champion Heathwood Hall (4-1) and Class 3A, fourth-ranked Swansea (6-2). The host Tigers have quietly assembled an impressive resume of late. Last year Swansea made it to final four of the state playoffs for the first time last season, losing in the Lower State title bout to Hilton Head. The Tigers made it as far as the third round three times in the previous four seasons. The Highlanders, who are currently ranked No. 2 behind Cardinal Newman in the SCISA poll, broke through in the playoffs for the first time - beating Porter-Gaud 1-0 in the playoff finale.
Dutch Fork at White Knoll
Six-ranked Dutch Fork (6-2, 1-1) needs a win to stay in the Region 5-4A title race. Unranked White Knoll (5-1, 2-0), which tied for last place a year ago, is off to a great start and has the chance to beat a 4A team top-10 for the first time.