A game that had nothing but bragging rights at stake may have created ramifications for the state soccer playoffs.
No. 4-ranked Lambert knocked off Forsyth Central 3-0 in a non-region game during Senior Night on Tuesday at The Horn, but coaches from both teams drew red card ejections in the closing minutes, including Longhorns head coach Chris Wilson.
The Longhorns (14-3) finished the season as the second seed in Region 6-AAAAAA and will host Duluth on May 1, while The Bulldogs’ (5-12) season is now complete.
According to Georgia High School Association rules, Wilson is required to miss the first round of the playoffs — and the second if the team advances. Central assistant coach Ryan Shaw, who also drew a red card, will be forced to miss the first two games of the 2014 season.
Wilson said he plans to appeal his suspension.
With about two minutes left in the game, a Central defender committed a hard foul on Lambert’s Matt Elliott near the 40 yard line.
Tempers flared, resulting in yellow cards for multiple players on both teams.
Moments later, Wilson and Shaw were issued red cards on the sideline.
"I was just trying to protect my players," Wilson said.
"We’ve had a number of injuries, and when a kid gets hit harder than I’ve seen a football player get hit, not that I didn’t give him time to react, but when I’m waiting to see how the kid is … and another coach approaches me from 20 yards and is in my face, I stood my ground and I get thrown out of the game."
Forsyth Central head coach Ross Walker said he didn’t want to comment in detail on the issue, but wasn’t pleased with what took place.
"[It was] just adults not acting like adults, that’s what it comes down to." Walker said. "… I don’t need to get into that."
The game featured little drama until the closing minutes.
The Longhorns worked their way down the field in the 13th minute and earned a throw-in deep in Central territory. Senior Trexler Bennett executed a perfect throw into the box for a running header by Logan Willis to score the first goal, and took a 1-0 lead at halftime.
Bobby Hopper dribbled just inside the far left side of the Central box before he was fouled in the 53rd minute, resulting in a penalty kick that was taken by Cooper Coughlin. The midfielder drilled the shot into the right corner of the goal to give Lambert a 2-0 advantage.
Coughlin contributed to the final goal of the match with an assist to Bobby Hopper, who beat the keeper with a low shot.
Lambert goalie Miles Maynard claimed the clean sheet, as the Bulldogs never had a quality scoring opportunity.
"In the first half, we really weren’t playing our game," Coughlin said. "We talked at halftime and really started to pick it up, and we did start to find the groove and we started playing it one-two-touch.
"I think we’ve got a lot of momentum going into the playoffs, and that’s good to have, so I think we’ll be ready to take down anyone."