By Steven Watkins
For the Forsyth County News
Sitting just one flimsy game ahead of South Forsyth in the region standings, the Lambert boys entered Friday night’s home soccer match against Forsyth Central with exactly two things in mind: beating Central and moving one more game closer to a share of a region title.
After roughly 80 minutes of fast, competitive and extremely-physical soccer, the game’s final horn put the Longhorns’ 1-0 lead into the books and gave them a brief moment of rest before their Monday night region finale against Milton.
“We’re fighting for the region championship,” Lambert head coach Chris Wilson said. “All we have to do is win Monday.”
Lambert’s lead came a little over five minutes into the second half. A booming free kick by Trey Hines that landed square in front of the goal set up a possession and quick score by fellow captain Logan Racine.
“I knew he was going to get it to me because he gets it to me every time,” Racine said on scoring play. “I felt like I had so many chances that I owed the team one. I just told myself that this one is going in.”
Both captains helped lead a Lambert offensive effort that outshot the Bulldogs by an 11-2 margin. In addition to the deciding goal, Hines took the majority of free kicks for the Longhorns and put many of them dangerously close to what might have been additional scoring opportunities.
“I just kind of saw (Racine) in the back post and he was open,” Hines said. “Logan’s great in there, so I put it back there to him and it happened to get in.”
Regardless of the standings, the Bulldogs played like a team stubbornly-intent upon spoiling the night for a region opponent. While failing for the most part to consistently put shots on goal, Central threatened early while playing a notably-physical match throughout. Three different players received yellow-cards, with two of them in the final two minutes alone.
Lambert girls 2, Forsyth Central 1
In a reversal of roles, the second game began with the Central girls playing with ambitions of a region title, while the Lambert girls needed nothing less than a dominant win and some significant help within region to keep their playoff hopes alive.
When Central midfielder Alexis Sherman’s free kick found the back of the net within the first five minutes, Lambert’s season appeared to be flat-lining.
The Longhorns either didn’t notice, or didn’t care.
In the following 85 minutes, the early momentum that clearly favored the Bulldogs gradually shifted to the increasingly confident underdogs. By the end of the first half, in spite of outshooting their opponents by five goals, Central’s 1-0 lead and subsequent moment seemed far from certain.
Just over five minutes into the second half, Lambert’s Lauren Hong’s goal removed any remaining doubt.
“I took first-touch inside and I was 1-versus-2,” Hong said. “Anna (Sullivan) was in a really good position and onside, so I did a quick one-two around the defender and just instinctively shot the ball as hard as I could.”
With just under six minutes to play, the deciding goal came courtesy of Hong’s fellow captain Reagan Donnelly on a beautiful shot from over 20 yards out.
The Longhorns held on for the final minutes, earning a fifth region win that, while ultimately will not grant them a playoff spot, put an undeniable high-note on the season’s final games.