By Adam Carrington
For the Forsyth County News
MARIETTA – Lambert got first-half goals from Mason Keith and Colin Vogel and stopped multiple Walton shots in the second half, securing a 2-0 victory over the Raiders on Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Class 7A state tournament.
The Raiders, who scored all their goals in the second half last week in their 3-0 shutout over Brookwood in the second round last week, had eight shots goal after halftime to no avail.
But it was the Longhorns who had possessed the ball the majority of the first half.
“They are a good team, very well coached,” Walton coach Bruce Wade said. “Their speed of play was faster than ours, especially in the first half. They scored on us quick and it's tough for any team to come back against a good team like that.”
Walton ends its season as state quarterfinalists with an 11-7-2 overall record after losing three of their first four games to start the year. Lambert (16-3-1) will face Denmark in the Final Four on Tuesday.
Lambert's first goal came with 16:51 remaining, after Walton goalkeeper Dylan Buchanan made a diving save against a Julian Cuervo shot attempt from inside the box. But Buchanan wasn't able to hold on to the ball and Vogel was there to put it in the goal.
The Longhorns struck again with 7:13 left to play when Keith took a Cuervo feed and rifled a shot past Buchanan and into the net.
Early in the second half, Walton started pushing more players up front to create more chances and nearly succeeded on multiple chances of chances.
“Getting those two goals makes them change and they have to chase the game because you have to win,” Lambert coach Chris Wilson said. “We definitely weathered a barrage that they had.
Three of their shots came during one possession with less than 30 minutes left to play. Cole Pumpian and Dylan Bailey took shots that bounced off Lambert defenders before Noah Louzan took a shot that bounced off the right goalpost.
Colin Villone had a shot opportunity that missed right and had another opportunity sail over the crossbar. Bailey later took a shot that was saved by Lambert keeper Liam Leja, and Louzan took another shot that was stopped by Leja.
Walton had another chance late when Leja was caught out of position, but Bailey couldn't get the shot off on time.
“That created some opportunities [in the second half] and left our backs exposed,” Wade said, “but they busted their butts and defended really well with limited numbers.”
Buchanan ended up with seven saves for Walton, with two coming late in the game as Lambert attempted to stretch the lead.