Sydney Hennessey always felt at home at Lambert.
One of 11 seniors that made up Lambert’s girls soccer team this season, Hennessey was a freshman when the Longhorns triumphed over Grayson, 2-1, in the 2017 Class 7A state championship game.
Lambert’s talented senior class has grown especially close since then, so Hennessey knew wherever she played after high school needed to offer a similar environment.
Hennessey believes she found exactly what she’s looking for at the University of Tennessee.
“A girl I used to play club with is there and I talk to her about it all the time. She said it’s the most close-knit, family feel ever,” Hennessey said. “That is the most important thing, I think, transitioning from high school to college and from club to college, just making sure you have that really good team bonding experience. And I’m very excited for that.”
Hennessey, who is the 2020 Forsyth County News Player of the Year, led a stifling Lambert defense that surrendered just three goals in 10 matches before the season was canceled because of concerns about the coronavirus. In all, Lambert posted eight shutouts this season.
The Longhorns ran roughshod through the month of March, outscoring their opponents 23-0 during a 4-0 run.
Senior Madison Haugen, who signed to play at Georgia, scored four goals March 3 during a 5-0 win against Milton, making her the school’s all-time leading scorer.
Lambert’s winning streak included a 2-0 win against West Forsyth, a slice of revenge against a Wolverines team that handed Lambert its first loss two weeks prior.
Lambert won the rematch 2-0 — with goals from Taylor Clark and Emerson Zimmerman — allowing the Longhorns to gain control of Region 5-7A.
“That’s where we clicked,” Hennessey said. “It was like, ‘Why does it have to happen now?’”
Lambert had its eyes on another state championship this year. The Longhorns lost many of their key players to the US Soccer Development Academy in 2018, including Hennessey, and even failed to make the playoffs.
In 2019, those players were back, and the Longhorns lost just one match all season — 2-1 to North Gwinnett in the Class 7A title game.
This year they aimed to go out on top.
“Devastating,” Hennessey said. “Especially being a senior, this was our last chance coming off losing state the year before. This was our chance to go out on top like we did freshman year. So it was really difficult to deal with, but you learn to get over it. You stay in contact with everyone and it makes it a lot better.”
Hennessey has also grown physically in that time, sprouting up from an even 5-foot tall as a freshman to 5-foot-5.
In the past two seasons, Hennessey and Lambert’s back line have set unprecedented marks, posting 27 shutouts across 33 matches and surrendering just eight goals.
“I personally like keeping the ball out of my net rather than me actually getting it in. That’s what I like,” Hennessey said. “I like getting it up to our forwards, but I definitely like keeping the shutout.”
Lambert girls soccer coach Scott Luthart calls Hennessey one of the best players he’s coached in his 27-year career.
She’s cycled between center back and outside back through her high school career and believes she’s become a more well-rounded player.
“He’s helped me develop into a very diverse player,” Hennessey said of Luthart. “He puts me somewhere and I do what he says. So he’s definitely helped me gain my confidence in just throwing me somewhere and actually believing in me and really having faith that I can do well for our team.”