KENNESAW – Prior to the second round of the Class AAAAAA state tournament, Lambert coach Rich Wehmen predicted to his team that its contest against Harrison be decided one goal — regardless of who came out on top. So when the Longhorns saw their lead shrink to a single tally with 36 seconds left in regulation, they were neither surprised nor flustered.
Instead, they were prepared for one last Harrison attack, and they knew what had to be done: keep the ball along the outside and clog the shooting lanes. After Lambert took a timeout, that’s exactly what they did, as Harrison failed to generate a quality scoring chance in those final seconds, giving Lambert an 8-7 victory.
The win sends Lambert to the Final Four yet again—a feat this program has accomplished in every year of its existence.
“Our boys played awesome,” said Wehman. “We made mistakes, but we picked ourselves up and we kept battling … We’re definitely happy with where we’re at.”
Contrary to Tuesday’s win over North Gwinnett—when 11 Longhorns found the score sheet—Lambert leaned on Sean Carruthers and Hunter Shepherd to provide the bulk of the offense. Carruthers and Shepherd scored four and three goals, respectively, and senior attack Coleman Sturkey chipped in one, as well.
Carruthers, who was named an all-American on Monday, scored three straight times for Lambert in the third and fourth quarters, allowing the Longhorns to keep pace with the Hoyas. His final goal came with 7:26 left in the quarter, when he took the ball from behind the net, circled around toward the crease and fired a shot past the Hoyas’ goaltender.
“[Harrison] really came out and really challenged some of our guys,” said Wehman. “I went up to Sean and told him, ‘This is what it’s all about. This is when you need to step up.’ And that’s what he did—he had a big game.”
Lambert got stellar goaltending from Garret Gomez, who was also named an all-American earlier in the week. Gomez made 14 saves en route to the win, including three in the opening minute to stymie an early rush from the Hoyas.
“He was awesome,” Wehman said of Gomez. “I know for us to have a chance to win, he’d have to play strong and he did.”
“I thought I played pretty well,” Gomez said. “It was one of my better games of the season. I had my head held down sometimes [this season], but my dad encouraged me and my coaches encouraged me, and things worked out.”
Next up for Lambert will be a semifinal matchup against Milton, who beat Johns Creek on Friday, 13-12, in overtime. The two teams met back on March 18, when the Longhorns won, 13-11.
If the Longhorns get past Milford, they’ll return to the championship game for the fourth straight season.
“There are only good teams left, and all the games are going to be close,” said Carruthers. “I feel like we have an advantage because we played so many close games this year against so many good teams. That will only help us.”