Dutch Fork’s plan to go unbeaten during the regular season went awry late in the season, but the 19-2, third-ranked Silver Foxes are still in the running to achieve the ultimate goal of securing the school first state girls soccer championship.
The DF postseason quest begins Monday with a first-round Class 4A state playoff match against Summerville. In all, eight Midlands teams are in action in the first round. Ninth-ranked Irmo hosts Fort Dorchester, 11th ranked Lexington has a road trip to Beaufort, 13th ranked Spring Valley hosts Northwestern, 14th ranked Ridge View is at home against Nation Ford, vastly improved White Knoll is at West Ashley and Blythewood makes its 4A playoff debut at Clover.
Dutch Fork’s seniors certainly want to make amends for last season’s relatively quick playoffs exit – a 1-0 shootout loss in the second round at home to James Island. The Silver Foxes advanced to the Lower State finals in 2007 before being send packing by eventual state champion Wando. The Silver Foxes boast a balanced scoring attack featuring Stephanie Gauthier, Sarah Haacker and Sam Vickers. Sophomore Katie Nesbit has done a fine job in goal after senior keeper Katie Wallace suffered an early-season injury.
Dutch Fork ran away with the Region 5-4A championship, positing a 13-1 record and finishing with a three-game advantage over runner-up Irmo.
Irmo faded a bit late in the campaign. The tepid 4-3-2 stretch run began it its own Hungry Howie’s tournament. Prior to the tourney, the Yellow Jackets stood at 9-2. Bianca Warder and Amy Dherckers have been potent scoring threats, with both entering the playoffs with more than 20 goals on the books.
Lexington, on the other hand, surged in the second half of the season. The youthful Wildcats won seven of nine down the stretch to finish at 11-9 and claimed a third-place finish in Region 5-4A. Taylor Piorkowski has been Lexington’s most consistent scoring threat all season.
Spring Valley (11-6-3) and Ridge View (14-4-2) shared first place in Region 4-4A, splitting their two region matches. RV won the first contest, 2-1, on goals by Cheryl Jennings and Ashley Tanner, and the Vikings took the rematch to create the deadlock with a 1-0 shootout victory. Spring Valley came out of the tie-breaking procedure with the region’s No. 1 playoff seed. Molly Davis and Janna Komorowski are the Vikings’ top offensive producers. Tanner, Jennings and Carolina McCloskey are equally dangerous in the Blazers offensive attack.
White Knoll put together its finest all around season in 2009, closing with an 11-7 overall record and finishing in a fourth-place tie with North Augusta (8-6) in Region 5-4A to make the state playoff cut for only the second time in school history, the first at the 4A level.
Blythewood had a 10-9-1 regular season record, and a 6-4, third-place effort in Region 4-4A. The Bengals are 3-0 in first-round playoffs game in their brief history – all at the 3A level. Blythewood made it to the third round of postseason play in 2008 and 2007.
Sumter (6-10) rounds out the Midlands 4A playoff contingent. The Gamecocks finished third in Region 6-4A, and travels to face Stratford.