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Lacrosse: Lambert grinds out win against North to lock up third seed
Lambert sophomore Delaney Hill looks for options Tuesday during the Longhorns' 10-8 win against North Forsyth. - photo by David Roberts

Tuesday's game against North Forsyth could have served as a microcosm of Lambert's season.

The Longhorns have played without sophomore middie Anya Lucia Phillips for much of the season and dropped back-to-back games right before spring break.

And yet, Lambert is 12-4.

The Longhorns fell in a quick two-goal hole to start Tuesday's match and lost senior defender Kat Conti in the second half after consecutive yellow cards.

And yet, Lambert won 10-8.

"It kind of goes to speak to the heart of our girls," Lambert girls lacrosse coach Travis Church said. "We've talked about that, and we want that to be our identity — relentless effort for 50 minutes of lacrosse. I kind of think for the most part that we gave that tonight. It ended up putting us on the right side of the scoreboard."

Lauren Gray led the Longhorns with three goals, while Kennedy Dean, Ellie Kotanian and Hadley Bates each chipped in two goals. Morgan Moncrief also scored one goal. 

Back-to-back goals by Emma Claire Seaney granted North a 2-0 lead, and after a free-position goal from Bates, North goalie Katie Musulman put on a defensive display, blocking four straight Lambert shots to keep the Longhorns off the board.

Musulman finished with 13 saves.

"I'm speechless with the way she played," Church said. "All the kudos to her."

Lambert finally broke through with Moncrief's goal on a free-position play, then pulled ahead after Dean's first of two goals. 

Seaney netted her third goal of the half to tie the game at halftime. Seaney had a chance to give the Raiders a one-goal advantage heading into the break when she attempted an over-the-shoulder shot in the final seconds of the half, but Kelsey Harris came through with the save.

Lambert dominated possession to open the second half, as two ground balls and two draw controls led to four straight goals within 2 1/2 minutes.

"I think freshman Mia Patrick, No. 46, really stepped it up on the draw," Church said. "We kind of switched some things up. One of the things Kennedy Dean, who was taking the draws at the start of the game, does best is get ground balls, so we kind of switched that around and let Mia [Patrick] take some draws and get Kennedy some ground balls. That really started to work for us, as far as possession is concerned."

Lambert led 7-4 with 18:50 left in the game, but North twice cut the deficit to one goal. 

Ella Gilbert scored after Kaitlynn Bennett briefly entered the game in goal for Harris, which made it 7-6 with 10:26 remaining. Then a pair of free-position goals by Seaney and Peyton Davis cut the Longhorns' lead to just 9-8 with 4:32 left.

Bates drew a pivotal charge against Chloe Sarete, who had the ball on a breakaway in the middle of the field. After a pair of saves by Musulman, Gray provided the dagger when she put a goal right over Musulman's left shoulder and gave the Longhorns the win.

Delaney Hill's ground ball inside the final minute allowed Lambert to retain possession and run out the clock.

"We played South last week and they put a spanking on us. Basically, we were thinking about that the whole spring break," North coach Robert Kienle said. "Coming back, that's what we were working for. This could have been us going to the playoffs, and that would have been the first time in our program's history, so the girls really wanted it. That doesn't kill our season. We've still got three games left, and I think we'll still come out with a pretty good season, but we were looking for the playoffs."

Kienle said he played a couple of freshman, including Sydney Howard, to combat the Longhorns' speed.

North (10-4, 4-4 Area 6, 6A-7A) will travel to Duluth at 6:30 p.m. Friday before wrapping up the season at home with a pair of games against Wheeler and Greater Atlanta Christian.

Lambert (12-4, 5-2 Area 6, 6A-7A) is guaranteed a playoff spot despite one area game against Gainesville remaining on the schedule. The Longhorns will step out of area play at 7 p.m. Monday to host Alpharetta.

"That win locked us into the three seed, which we're excited for," Church said. "That was kind of our goal at the start of the season, was to get back to the playoffs ... we're really excited for our seniors to get back to the playoffs."