As Lambert’s Madison Haugen ran down the field on Friday night, she looked up to see a perfectly placed pass through the air from Katelyn Castelli headed her way.
She took the ball at her feet and faced a one-on-one chance against West Forsyth goalkeeper AJ Needham, which she just barely converted.
“I just knew that was my chance to get back there,” Hauden said. “I was a little nervous when it hit the post but it felt good to finish that.”
That score was the first of three goals for Haugen on Friday night, which helped the Longhorns cruise to a 5-0 win over West. Haugen, a junior, is one of multiple players who have returned to Lambert this year from the Development Academy ranks. As evidenced by Friday’s performance and by Lambert’s 6-0-0 start to the season, those players could be instrumental in the Longhorns’ chances to win their second state championship in three years.
Haugen’s first goal came with 22:04 left in the first half, but it came in the midst of pressure, which West applied for the entirety of the game.
“We physically earned that one,” Lambert girls coach Scott Luthart said. “Not that all soccer games aren't physical, but that one had a physicality to it that we hadn't seen yet this year out of an opponent.”
With 12:40 left until halftime, West’s Jordan Wright connected on the Wolverines’ first real shot attempt the night, which sailed just over the crossbar to hit the football goalpost. Two minutes later, Taylor Clark took a Ellie Prybylski cross from the left side and capitalized, putting Lambert up 2-0 with 10:45 left in the first.
With nine minutes left, another Prybylski assist led to Haugen’s second goal from about 15 yards out. Prybylski, a senior, is another one of the Development Academy players Lambert has brought back this season.
“We always have talent in this program, and last year, we were talented, too — we just lacked efficiency in the goal-scoring end of things,” Luthart said. “So you bring a bunch of players like that back, everybody else's level just raises. You've got some frames of reference in terms of playing quicker, skillfully and having a nose for the goal. It rubs off on everybody else.”
West played more aggressively in the second half, but the Longhorns’ scores just kept coming. Right after a great save from West’s goalkeeper, Lambert’s Ellie Christensen scored off her hands on a Haugen assist with 20:36 to play. Haugen scored from the left side with 16:34 to go to complete the hat trick, her second in a row after scoring another three in a 9-0 win against South Forsyth on Tuesday.
During her year away from high school soccer, Haugen took advantage of great opportunity to polish her game. But representing her school is not something she takes for granted, and she hopes that she can do that well.
“I missed it so much the year we were gone,” she said. “It was really sad after winning a state championship, not being able to play (at Lambert) the next year. I'm really happy we have a chance to do the same thing again this year.”
West fell to 4-3-1 and 2-1 in Region 5-7A with the defeat.
Lambert boys 1, West Forsyth 0
Both teams had plenty of scoring opportunities, but thanks to solid saves by both goalkeepers, only one of those chances ended with a ball in the back of the net. Lambert’s Kyler Darsey scored just with just 1:08 left in the half.
Lambert’s boys improved to 5-0-1 and 3-0 in region play on the season. West fell to 0-5-2, 0-3.