The margin between winning and losing in soccer is slim when the stakes are high.
The smallest differences usually go unnoticed but can often be decisive in the final outcome. It can be innate but more than not it’s learned, gained from experience against quality competition. That edge has a lot of times been the difference for Wando during its two-year reign as national champions.
This year’s Warriors team features a host of fresh faces in larger roles. They’re still growing into inherited expectations that stretch as tall as any. The early stages of the season have been devoted to development. More and more, though, Wando head coach Shilo Tisdale is seeing his Warriors making winning plays with confidence.
Such was the case as No. 4 Wando shut out No. 12 Bishop England, 2-0, Saturday at Jack Cantey Stadium on Daniel Island. The Warriors’ win was their first over their neighboring rival since 2016. The rivalry had been dormant since the Bishops edged the Warriors in a penalty-kick shootout three years ago.
“This team has had to find themselves,” Tisdale explained. “We replaced nine starters and had to find our identity. You can see them taking steps forward though. You can see we’re going in the right direction with games like tonight.”
Wando attacked early, firing away at Bishops sophomore keeper Matthew Michel, who logged three saves in the opening 10 minutes and seven in the first half.
The Warriors broke through in the 36th minute. It began as a seemingly innocuous play with a loose ball that appeared to be headed out of bounds. Warriors senior midfielder Jonah Miller jarred it from the sideline with a slide and then pushed ahead to McCrady Andrews who was already streaking ahead. Andrews floated the ball out of the corner, across the goal to the far side for Trevor Leithauser who headed it into the upper corner for the Warriors’ first score.
“You have to be willing to sacrifice yourself in a game like this,” Tisdale said. “Hunt down every little thing. If you’re the first to it, if you commit to it, if you make that little play a little earlier than your opponent, you’re going to create those chances.”
Bishop England earned a free kick a minute later that senior James Cox bent off his left foot toward the right side of the net, only to have Warriors keeper Logan McCoy snatch it out of the air.
Henry Loor broke free for a one-on-one look against McCoy in final two minutes of the opening half that McCoy won a touch on the ball that sent it wide left.
“We should’ve put them away with those chances but we didn’t,” said Bishop England coach Ed Khouri, who was missing three starters in the match. “We had to more or less go into this game in a low-pressure system and let the game come to us. We had a few good chances. We have to make the most of those opportunities because they don’t come around a lot against a team like Wando.”
Bishops senior Ethan Kessler fought off a defender and had quality look cross McCoy but fly just wide five minutes into the second half.
Kevin Wray nearly netted Wando’s second score with a loose ball in front of the net in the 48th minute but Bishops senior Russell McLaughlin got a foot on it.
Owen Hamilton eventually did extend the Warriors’ lead in the 63rd minute. Thomas Richvalsky drew a penalty inside the box. Hamilton took the kick and broke it through Michel’s grasp into the lower left corner of the net.
Bishop England had a good look at a header just miss with 15 minutes to play. Cox went airborne to try to corral a long boot that landed in front of the net five minutes later but McCoy sealed the opportunity.
“When we possess and keep the ball, their scorers aren’t able to become a factor,” Tisdale said. “We did a pretty good job of possessing it at times tonight and when they did it get, we immediately put pressure on them.”
Bishop England falls to 8-4-1 on the season, although all four losses have come to teams positioned top five in the overall state rankings. Wando improves to 12-2 with the win, riding a seven-game winning streak in which it’s outscored opponents 51-1.
“We’re getting there,” Tisdale said. “These guys are realizing this is their team now. They’re hungry. They have the potential. We’re building that confidence that every time we step on the field, we’re not going to lose.”