The Lambert Lady Longhorns took care of business Friday night defeating Forsyth Central, 4-0, to clinch the 2017 Region 5-AAAAAAA championship.
“It’s really gratifying to see (the players) get that reward of a No. 1 seed and a region championship,” Lambert coach Scott Luthart said. “Because honestly, on a day-to-day basis, they earn it. We make them earn it.”
The Lady Longhorns started the game strong with sophomore Reagan Donnelly scoring a header off a corner kick just six minutes into the contest.
Fellow sophomore Ellie Prybylski netted a beautiful strike from 30-yards out at the 24-minute mark of the first half to make it 2-0, and an own goal by the Lady Bulldogs off a corner kick 90 seconds later made it 3-0.
Lambert’s Kali Franz was the last Longhorn to score on the night. She cashed in on her chance with just over five minutes remaining for the 4-0 win and region championship.
It was the typical Lambert balanced attack that Luthart and the Lady Longhorn seniors hopes propels them back to where they found themselves two years ago in the state championship game.
“I feel like looking back on sophomore year,” senior Daniela Conroy said, “when we made our playoff run to the state championship, we won the region. That was the first thing for that season. We won the region, then we had our whole playoff run, so winning the region this year I think gives us some hope and excitement.”
“Looking back at all the work it took us to get here,” senior Maddie Eddleman said. “We’ve been working so hard at practices, and we’ve been so committed. We were working over Spring Break, we’re all just so committed and being able to look at what it’s gotten us and be able to know if we keep working hard, we can just keep going.”
The next step for Luthart is to manage his Lady Longhorns this next week before the state playoffs. No full four-day training week this. Luthart plans to give the team a day off before their season finale against Cambridge to watch film in an effort to save his team’s legs for the upcoming playoff push.
“The biggest thing is to just fine tune the machine and then see how long it runs,” Luthart said.
“(We can run) all the way to the finals,” senior goalkeeper Jordyn Ebert said.
“I trust every single one of those girls,” Conroy said. “I love them all to death. They’re great players and I feel very confident.”
Lambert boys 3, Central 2
It was a back-and-forth contest down the stretch between Lambert and Forsyth Central on Friday night ultimately ending in a 3-2 victory for the Longhorns.
Lambert senior Eion Griffiths opened the scoring in the first half with a strike to the back of the net after receiving a pass off a free kick 25-minutes into the contest.
Griffiths’ goal was the difference until midway through the second half when Central’s Uriel Romero got his outstretched foot on the end of a crossing pass to send the ball to the back of the net to tie the score at 1-1.
It didn’t take long for Lambert to answer, however, as just six minutes later, Longhorn striker Dean Bogarde was able to slip past the Bulldog defense and bury a shot to the far corner.
With 12 minutes remaining, Lambert’s Zane Ziegler was able to connect on a corner kick to make it 3-1 Longhorns.
The game seemed to be out of reach until a Lambert handball resulted in a Central penalty kick which captain Connor Crocco netted with ease.
The Bulldogs made a furious rally in the final nine minutes after Crocco’s penalty kick goal, but were unable to find the equalizer, however, their effort was not lost on either coach.
“That was a much different team,” Lambert coach Chris Wilson said of a Central team that had previously lost 6-0 to the Longhorns. “I commend their coach and their effort tonight.”
“I’m tremendously proud of my boys,” Forsyth Central coach Will Gifford said. “These guys worked really hard. They are committed to giving their best effort. At the end of the day, there are only two things you can control, your attitude and your effort, and I felt that both were right tonight.”
With the win, the Longhorns remain in the hunt for the Region 5-AAAAAAA championship. or the Longhorns.