Sixth-ranked Lexington opened the Class 4A girls soccer state playoffs with a 2-0 win over No. 15 Blythewood on Monday at Wildcat Stadium.
It was the eighth win in a row for the Wildcats (18-4), who host either West Ashley or Carolina Forest in second-round action Monday.
“That was a tough first-round match,” Lexington coach Chris Fryland said. “Blythewood had injuries early and got off to a rough start, but they got everybody’s attention when they beat Irmo and Dutch Fork. We knew this was not going to be an easy one.”
The Wildcats took an early lead on a goal by Taylor Piorkowski and put it away with about 25 minutes to play on a tally by Hayley Rogers.
Pirkowski pounced on a rebound and zipped a shot into the open net in the second minute for a 1-0 lead. The scoring play began when Courtney Carrier ran down a long pass just outside the box and ripped a high, hard shot that forced star Blythewood keeper Lauren Killian to leap high to deflect away.
It was an outstanding save, but the rebound went right to Piorkowski who was in perfect position to convert the easy chance with Killian out of position.
“Getting a goal that early really helped us relax because this was the first playoff match, and we were all a little nervous,” Piorkowski said.
The Lander-bound senior set up Rogers’ insurance tally with a clever pass from the end line to the left of the net into a pack of players in from of the Blythewood goal. There was no shot on goal initially, but Rogers controlled the attempted clearing kick at the top of the box and fired it in.
“Taylor is the key player for us, and she’s healthy,” Fryland said. “She just has a knack for making plays and finding ways to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Blythewood (12-8) had some good scoring chances but couldn’t beat Wildcats keeper Sarah Padgett, whose best saves came on a first-half breakaway by Skylar Tieben and a far-corner bid by Salina Maynard in the second.
“That early goal put us behind the eight ball a little, but the girls never stop working and we had as much of the play as (Lexington) did for a lot of the match,” Bengals coach Mike Mauldin said. “We just couldn’t get one to go in, but I’m very proud of the way this team kept battling despite all the early adversity.”