With the most direct route to the goal cut off, Lambert’s boys were forced to flank Richmond Hill.
The No. 1-ranked Longhorns scored three goals off assists and two more with the help of a corner kick and a throw in on Tuesday, defeating Richmond Hill 5-1 in the second round of the Class AAAA state playoffs at The Horn.
“[Richmond Hill was] keeping the field very compact where it was difficult to go down the middle, so success was going to be found out wide where there was a little bit more space,” Lambert coach Chris Wilson said. “If you could play a ball through out wide you were going to find [success], and I think we were able to do that tonight in all five goals.”
Lambert (20-0) struck in the third minute when Mitch Fandos sent a well-placed corner kick a couple yards in front of the goal. Bakawsu Kinteh was there to tap it in the right side of the net and put the Longhorns on top 1-0.
“It was a brilliant serve, probably the nicest one we’ve had all year,” Wilson said. “It was just perfectly put where you’d want it — over and bending back in towards the goal — and easy for a forward who just times it well coming in.”
The Wildcats (15-4) tied the contest 1-1 in the 10th minute when Juwan Gaul broke free down the middle of the field and chipped a high, arcing shot over goalkeeper Michael Zambetti, but Lambert scored four unanswered goals over the next 70 minutes.
“I thought they stepped up and pressured us,” Wilson said. “[Gaul] up top was a physical specimen and difficult to defend and had the speed to go with it. They were very direct, whereas we like to knock the ball around, and I think that took them out of the game at times.”
A little more than four minutes later, Kinteh broke the tie with his second goal, this time off a more traditional assist from Fandos. Brendan Everett padded the lead to 3-1 in the 16th minute, heading the ball in from close range after Trexler Bennett played it in from the left side.
Zack Davis helped preserve the lead in the 48th minute by deflecting a close-range attempt by the Wildcats.
One minute later, Zambetti came five yards out of the net to stop a breakaway attempt by Gaul near the left side of the goal, then scrambled back and made a diving save at the opposite post when Justin Carrillo took possession of the ricochet and tried a shot of his own.
Davis also found success on the offensive end in the 54th minute. Cooper Coughlin crossed the ball over from the far right side of the field to Kinteh in the middle, but instead of a taking a shot, Kinteh kept the ball moving left to Davis for the open, close-range goal.
“I thought Zack Davis was excellent from beginning to end,” Wilson said. “I thought he was brilliant tonight, and he’s playing a different position than normal. He got our Most Improved Player Award at our banquet.”
Five minutes later, Coughlin tacked on the Longhorns final goal from five yards out.
Lambert’s victory sets up a rematch of last year’s state quarterfinals. The Longhorns will host No. 2 McIntosh (16-2-1) on Friday.
McIntosh brought Lambert’s state championship hopes to an abrupt end last season with an upset win at The Horn.
“They were the better of the two teams that day,” Wilson said, “so we were hoping to see them again.”