Despite the rain coming down all day, the weather finally took a break right in time for the Class 7A state girls soccer Final Four between Forsyth Central and Walton Thursday at Bulldog Stadium.
Walton had been at this stage before, reaching the Final Four for the third consecutive year, including last season when the Raiders stunned Denmark in the quarterfinals by giving the Danes their first loss after starting 19-0.
For the Forsyth Central Bulldogs, it was their first semifinal in school history.
It was a battling contest throughout the match and even needed overtime to determine the winner. However, Walton was on the winning side of the scoreboard, defeating Central by a 2-1 margin.
In the first half, neither team could draw away from the other.
Walton was the first one to get an opportunity to shoot, but it rolled straight to senior goalie Marlee McAdam or kicked too high and wide due to Central using a double-team to alter shot attempts.
Despite a scoreless game, senior defender Kieryn Jeter gave the student section something to roar about.
Raider Emma Graham was inching close to the net but ran into Jeter, who immediately stole the ball away. Graham tried to fight for the ball back, but Jeter did enough dribbling to break Graham's ankles, resulting in her falling down to the turf.
Walton still managed to get downfield to shoot with less than 10 seconds left on the clock, but Lila Jaillet's kick sailed too high to get in.
Walton was more aggressive in its shot attempts entering the second half. One of their four shot attempts nearly struck through but hit the crossbar.
Beyond that, the Raiders controlled the pace and maintained possession for the first 11 minutes due to Central not clearing the zone.
With 13:19 remaining, Forsyth Central shot from a short distance but missed. The Raiders were trying their best to kick the ball to clear the area.
That's when the ball rolled over to Gabby Volpe, and she shot with no hesitation for the first goal.
It took only Walton a minute to respond. After receiving a foul call, the Raiders were given a free kick at the right side of the 5-yard line.
The kick went in Katie Jamison's direction, and she headed the ball into the back of the net to tie the game.
From there, Forsyth Central and Walton had a challenging time getting their shots into the net. Walton had the most chances with three shot attempts, although Central’s Brielle LaBerge had the best chance of getting a goal but got tripped up.
With three minutes left in the second period of overtime, Walton's Reagan Mulberry had a good direct view of the net and shot it into the back of the net before the Bulldogs could close her down, sending her team to the state championship.
The Bulldogs end their season with a record of 17-4.