Lexington completed a run through the Lower State boys soccer playoffs on Tuesday, defeating Region 5 rival Dutch Fork 3-1 to advance to the Class 4A state championship match for the first time.
It was the fourth consecutive postseason road triumph for the Wildcats, who entered the playoffs as a No. 4 seed.
Lexington (17-9-1) will tangle with archrival Irmo in Saturday’s title match at Gilbert.
“This is awesome,” Lexington coach Will Gettys said. “It’s what coaches tell their teams all the time — just get into the playoffs because once you’re in anything can happen. Even though we lost twice to them during the season I really felt this was going to be an even match because we’ve really been playing well.”
In fact, the Wildcats dominated play after Dutch Fork opened the scoring with a goal by Tyler Bass in the fifth minute.
After the quick hit, Lexington began monopolizing possession time and the pressure paid off in the 36th minute when Bryson Tindal teamed up with Brett Smith to tie the score.
“I headed the ball in to Brett, and he put the volley off the keeper,” explained Tindal. “I made a move when the ball started to come out and headed the ball straight down. It had a lot of spin and skipped in.”
The trouble for Dutch Fork was keeper Kyle Brosius was left to deal on his own with two unmarked Wildcats on the doorstep.
“That was a big goal,” Tindal said. “We were playing well at that point but getting the goal to tie it up just gave us a huge lift.”
Lexington put it away with two goals after the break, the first by Smith, who took advantage of another Dutch Fork defensive breakdown in close.
Smith took a short feed from Adam Yonge on a corner inside the penalty box and beat Brosius cleanly in the 46th minute.
“We planned out the play in practice, and it couldn’t have worked any better,” the junior forward said. “Nobody followed me in, and Adam put it between the post and the six (yard box), right on my left foot. Perfect.”
Sophomore Gian Ortega put on the finishing touch in the 53rd minute, scoring on what turned out to be a breakaway. Ortega ran down a through-ball and split the Dutch Fork defense to go in on Brosius unmarked.
Dutch Fork, which finished 17-6-1, had a chance to get back in the hunt with 15 minutes to go. Bass whistled a challenging bender on a free kick from 20 yards out on the far right side only to be foiled by a leaping save by Wildcats keeper Jacob Parton.
The Silver Foxes, a No. 3 seed, pulled off a stunning upset of Wando — the No. 1 ranked team in the nation — in the second round, but could not tame Lexington for a third time.