Lambert didn't have one of its better games Friday night, but it didn't matter much.
In the end, senior forward Olivia Haugan scored late and the Lady Longhorns walked away with a 1-0 victory over West Forsyth, clinching the region 6-AAAAAA title. Teammates and coaches ran across the field after the contest to welcoming parents and peers who braved a steady rain throughout the afternoon. The players gathered on the track near midfield, hoisting a banner that read “#lamberttostate.”
“It was never easy,” Lambert head coach Scott Luthart said. “I feel like this region was the strongest top to bottom since we've been around. We had three or four 1-0 wins, every game was tight and that was the best West team we've seen, so we knew they'd stretch us. Player for player they matched up well.
“At the same time, the conditions weren't very good, but we kind of hurt ourselves with some bad technical backgrounds, but the team was resilient. ...I'm very proud of this group, they're a great bunch of kids and they deserved everything they got. The work they put in that nobody sees, it's moments like this that they work for. We have bigger goals moving forward, but we can check this box off.”
Lambert's lone goal didn't come until the 73rd minute, when Hogan snuck up to the backside of goalkeeper Alexis Carter, who faced tremendous pressure from the left side of the goal. Senior Emily Haugen could have taken her chance with a shot on Carter, but instead found Hogan out of her peripherals for the sure score.
The goal erased much of the frustration caused by West (7-8, 4-5). Carter had an improbable save just moments prior when Hogan received the ball just feet from the goal. Carter scrambled to get back and intercepted the ball at the threshold of the left pole.
Before that moment, Lambert spent much of the contest leading passes too far and fighting against West's defense near midfield. The Lady Wolverines didn't apply much pressure offensively, but nearly struck first off the foot of Landon Bowman with 21 minutes remaining in the second half. Bowman took a shot from 30 yards that was mishandled by keeper Jordyn Ebert, but ricocheted off the the pipe.
Lambert (15-2, 8-1) will finish its regular season Wednesday in a non-region game against Etowah, while West will play at Collins Hill Tuesday.
Lambert boys 3, West Forsyth 0
Lambert improved to 13-4 and 7-2 in Region 6-AAAAAA with a 3-0 victory over West. Matt Elliot opened the scoring in the first half, followed by a goal just before intermission from Jackson Katina, of whom Chris Wilson called the “striker of the match.”
“I'm very proud of the boys for doing the things we've been working on, attacking with speed,” Wilson said. “I thought Katina, who subbed in, was the man of the match. I was very proud of the way the boys finished it off.”
The Longhorns pitched their 11th shutout of the season.
“I couldn't be prouder of our goalkeeper Nicholas Coward,” Wilson said. “and particularly with our two captains in the back in Ryan Brobson and Rob Bonet, they are just phenomenal. They pride themselves on not giving anything up and you can tell.”
Zane Ziegler capped off the scoring in the second half with a clever header that floated over the head of keeper Jacob Allen. Allen, despite giving up three goals, made a hand full of highlight stops under pressure from the Longhorns' offense.
The West and Lambert boys teams will play Collins Hill and Etowah, respectively, in their final matches of the season.