Throughout the entire first half of Lambert’s state semifinal match with Brookwood, the chances looked increasingly slim for the Longhorns.
It seemed like every seemingly open lane would be closed just in time to block a shot, and the visiting Broncos were doing what they could to physically show they weren’t afraid of a Lambert team that hadn’t lost all year. So when Lambert sophomore Faith Ferrer found open space in front of the net with just over a minute left in the half, she knew her chance was precious.
“I was screaming as loud as I can,” she said. “I just wanted to get a touch on it.”
Teammate Madison Haugen, who had taken the ball just outside the left edge of the box, saw Ferrer and served her a beautiful cross across the middle. Ferrer corralled the ball long enough to kick it as hard as she could towards the goal — so hard that she went down to the ground with a cramp as soon as it left her foot. But the ball went in, giving Lambert a one-goal lead right before the half. Ferrer’s ailing calf muscle was the least of her worries.
“It was worth it,” Ferrer said. “It was so awesome having everyone battling throughout that whole 30 minutes. It was awesome that it finally paid off.”
Ferrer left the game in the second half, but her score was critical in giving the Longhorns the boost they needed. Haugen added two goals in the second half, and Lambert ultimately secured a 3-0 win over the Broncos to earn a trip to its second state championship game in the last three years.
“For sure, they're one of the best all-around teams we've played this year,” Haugen said. “They definitely tested us, which is good because I think it brings out the best in us when we play some of the best competition.”
With three yellow cards in the first half, the game was physical right from the opening kick. Both teams found ways to get some shots in, but defense ruled the first half. While Lambert executed some nice passes early, none of them resulted in anything.
“I haven't seen us play with jitters like we played (with) early on,” Lambert coach Scott Luthart said. “Brookwood does a good job playing quality soccer, but they do it with a physical edge to them. We didn't adjust real well to the physicality at the beginning of the game, but then I think we started to stand up for ourselves a little bit as the game wore on.”
Lambert added some more insurance with 10:36 left after Haugen was fouled in the box. She converted her shot easily, bringing the Longhorn’s lead to three.Haugen’s first goal came early in the second, with 31:36 to play. She kicked a ball off the right post, and while it bounced inside the net into the hands of Brookwood’s keeper, the ball was over the line, and Lambert was awarded the goal for a 2-0 lead.
“I knew to go to my side, hit it low, and it went in,” Haugen said.
While the Longhorns were here just two years ago with some of the same players, not everything is the same, whether it be the pressure of an undefeated season to presence of a few new younger faces as well. But at the end of their last game, they hope the same feeling of victory will be awaiting them.
“I'm just so excited,” Haugen said. “It's great to think that all the hard work that we put into the season is paying off, and to get a chance to play for a state title is awesome.”