Lambert struck early and never looked back, finding the back of the net in the sixth minute of play in a 1-0 victory against Collins Hill that sent the Lady Longhorns to the Class AAAAAA semifinals for the first time in the school's history.
Lambert, which opened in 2009, sent the 2011 girls soccer team to the AAAA finals, but head coach Luthart can't believe his team has progressed enough since then to make a run at the state championship in the highest classification.
“It's indescribable,” Luthart said. “I get emotional about it because they work super hard. If you could see the work they put in the other three days of the week when they're not out here playing a game, they love on each other, which I think is crucial, and I've never seen a team that connects and has so many people involved.”
The lone goal came from junior midfielder Maggie Hanusek, who was busy in the game's first 10 minutes. Hanusek had two shots to score off crosses from Emily Haugen, but couldn't execute, before her third try — an aggressive battle for the ball against Collins Hill's goalkeeper and defender — found the air between the pipes.
“Maggie was buzzing around all day today,” Luthart said. “She scored the goal by continuing to scrap and use her body for separation. Sometimes in games like this you need that scrappy goal. You want that 30-yard screamer, but sometimes it's that tough goal where you just fight. The two games we lost this year I thought we were the better team. We will not be outworked.”
That 30-yard “screamer” almost came with two minutes left in the first half, and was one of 14 official shot attempts the Lady Longhorns produced as they were the aggressors for almost the entire contest on offense. The Lady Eagles were held to just six shot attempts, and while their top player, Desiree Bowen, had plenty of looks and fancy-footwork attacks, Lambert's Brooke Endres had a handful of steals of Bowen to keep Collins Hill out of sync.
Goalkeeper Jordyn Ebert had four saves.
“I thought we did a really good job in the first half,” Luthart said. “In the second half because they put more bodies forward and the fatigue factor set in, they spread us out a little bit and made us a bit anxious. But at the same time, that's a team that is pretty prolific offensively, so for us to put a zero up there was pretty monumental for us. They were really one of the better teams we've seen all year.”
Luthart feels good about his team's chances in the semifinals. The No. 1 seed Lady Longhorns will face the winner of the Lassiter-Parkview quarterfinal on Tuesday. Lassiter and Parkview were seeded No. 2 and No. 4, respectively.
“We get so many contributions from so many kids, and that's the type of team that can go far,” Luthart said.