For the Forsyth County News
The top team in Class 7A made quite the statement to open up the state playoffs.
Lambert's girls soccer team dominated from start to finish Tuesday in their first-round victory over Discovery. Sophomore Caroline Casperson scored three goals, all in the first half, to help the Longhorns to a 10-0 victory.
Casperson led the team in goals, but it was Lambert's balanced attack that really allowed the Longhorns to take control of the game. Seven different players scored a goal in the game, including three midfielders and a defender, junior Kate Borner, who scored the first goal of her high school career.
This balanced scoring attack wasn’t always the case for the Longhorns.
Lambert coach Scott Luthart made that a point of emphasis for his team earlier in the season.
“Going into the Pace Academy game, I challenged the midfielders pregame to get more involved,” Luthart said. “Ever since that game, our midfield has absolutely taken off. I think in that game we won 9-1, and the midfield accounted for six of those.”
While the effort on the field was clear, the energy on the sideline also played a huge role in the game for Lambert.
With a little less than 30 minutes remaining, Luthart took his starters out of the game and allowed some of his other players to make their mark on the game. Even though they weren’t technically in the game, the starters still made their presence felt with their voices on the sidelines.
“Sometimes you get a little bit complacent,” Luthart said. “We’re in the middle of a great run this season. You can start to take it for granted, and you’ve got to realize that any one of these nights in the playoffs could be your last one, so you’ve got to be able to live it up and enjoy it.”
Every Lambert player showed that in the game, as they celebrated and encouraged each other throughout the night. The energy was especially evident late in the game, when Borner and freshman Ellie Daffin scored the final two goals of the game.
Looking forward, Luthart feels his team’s preparation and experience will benefit them greatly in a playoff atmosphere.
“I’m super proud of how they work every day in practice, and we show the benefits of that on gameday more often than not,” Luthart said. “I think we’ve played enough playoff-caliber teams that we feel like we’ve been here before."
Of the 17 games Lambert played before tonight, 15 of the Longhorns' opponents qualified for the state playoffs, and eight of them were region champions.
Along with Casperson’s hat trick, senior Emerson Zimmerman contributed two goals for the Longhorns, one in each half.
Senior Anna Hines made a heads-up play to score a goal off a deflection from the keeper in the first half.
Senior Isabella Weigle scored on a penalty kick in the latter part of the first half. Senior Rylee Huffman also scored in the second half, along with Borner's and Daffin’s goals that ended the game a few minutes early.
The Longhorns (16-0-2) advance to the second round of the state playoffs, where they will host North Gwinnett (10-7-3) on Monday.