By Noah Rubin
For the Forsyth County News
When two of the top teams in the state meet, you expect to be on the edge of your seat the entire game.
Wednesday night’s matchup at Lambert High School did just that as the Longhorns topped South Forsyth 10-9 in overtime.
Lambert, the top-ranked team in the state, struck early in the match, as senior Andrew Zeman found junior Danny Kesselring for the first two goals of the game.
Coach Josh Sagel had high praise for the duo.
“[The duo is] nice to have,” Sagel said. “Andrew’s been with our program since he was in first or second grade, and Danny’s a nice addition to our program, and they’re really feeding off of each other.”
The War Eagles responded by scoring four goals from four different players in a little over two minutes late in the first period. While the balanced attack from South Forsyth helped them build an early lead, goalie Ethan Barlag also played a huge role for the War Eagles.
“Without Ethan, we’re not even in the game," South coach Steve Hurlbut said. “He’s amazing. He doesn’t really get the credit he deserves because nobody really pays attention to the guy who stops the goals. They’ll only pay attention to the guy who scores the goals. Just like in football, they don’t care about the lineman, it’s just the guys scoring touchdowns.”
Hurlbut also highlighted the team’s depth by including their backup goalie in the conversation.
“I don’t want to take anything away from our other goalie. We have another goalie, Hunter Klosterman. Both of those kids could start on any team in the state, and I believe that.” Hurlbut said.
Hurlbut wasn’t the only one that noticed Barlag’s impact on the game. Coach Sagel also mentioned how much of a difference he made.
“Hats off to Ethan Barlag over there,” Sagel said. “He was unbelievable.”
After Lambert scored the final goal of the first quarter, South scored the first three goals of the second period, which allowed them to lead 7-3 with five minutes remaining in the first half. Kesselring and Zeman each scored a goal for the Longhorns late in the half, cutting the War Eagle lead to only 7-5 at halftime.
Chris Vitucci scored the first goal of the second half for South Forsyth on an assist from Ryan Lightsey. However, it marked the last goal that the War Eagles would score until 10 seconds left in regulation.
Lambert scored two more goals in the third period and the first two of the fourth period to take their first lead since late in the first. Clay Walsh scored with 10.4 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, it was Kesselring’s heroics that ended the game. After the Longhorns held the ball for a couple of minutes, Kesselring took a low shot that slid beneath the reach of the goalie, giving him his fifth goal of the game and his team the win.
Zeman finished with four goals for the Longhorns, and Aidan Finch rounded out the scoring for Lambert with a goal of his own.
South Forsyth had a more balanced attack, as seven different War Eagles scored a goal. Vitucci and Carter Peterson each scored two goals in the game.
Lambert (15-1, 7-0 in 6A-7A Area 6) will host Gainesville at noon Saturday, while South (10-4, 5-1 in 6A-7A Area 6) also returns to action on Saturday, as the War Eagles travel to play at Denmark at 3 p.m.