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Soccer: No. 7 Forsyth Central edges North Gwinnett to reach Sweet 16
Lucas Oliveira
Forsyth Central junior Lucas Oliveira scored the game-winning goal Wednesday during the Bulldogs' 1-0 win against North Gwinnett in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs.

By Derrick Richemond

For the Forsyth County News

Forsyth Central's boys soccer team has prevailed in close matches all season.

The Bulldogs did it again Wednesday with a 1-0 victory against North Gwinnett in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs, collecting their eighth win by a one-goal margin this season.

As a result, Central will advance to the Class 7A Sweet 16 on Tuesday to face Region 4-7A champion Brookwood.

“I’m incredibly proud of our boys and their effort,” Central’s head coach Will Gifford said. “This group of players really competed for each other all year. They have shown a lot of growth and character."

After a scoreless first half, both teams began to turn up the pressure within three minutes of the second half, each firing shots at goal. However, neither team was able to find the back of the net.

It wasn’t until 34 minutes left that a North Gwinnett player received a yellow card after interfering with Lucas Oliveira, who had a clear path to the goal, that Central was able to break the scoreless tie. 

Oliveira received a free kick on the foul. This time, Oliveira didn’t line up in a normal free kick position. He set up the free kick by facing the team’s bench and kicked a powerful kick to land inside the net to give the Bulldogs the win. 

On defense, Central's back line worked to cut off passes in the defensive third, using the one-goal cushion to play a more aggressive and physical style and holding North Gwinnett to just two shot attempts late in the second half.

“It was a back-and-forth first half," Gifford said. "We felt that we lacked a bit of energy. I felt like the boys really worked hard in the second half."