Lambert’s girls soccer team ended its March 8 region matchup with Forsyth Central in a way they’d become accustomed to lately: holding a lead.
But that lead was not a win. The Longhorns were up 2-0 over the Bulldogs that night when lightning began to enter the area. After a lengthy delay, the game was stopped with 36:55 left to play in the second half, with the rest of the game being postponed to Thursday. For Lambert head coach Scott Luthart, it wasn’t ideal.
“It was strange,” he said. “I always feel like once we get into the flow and the rhythm of the game, we seem to perform better and more consistently in the second half. It’s kind of like we had two first halves.”
Lambert didn’t let the week-long break get to them, as the Longhorns scored two more goals in the opening minutes of action on Thursday, and finally came away with a 4-0 win. Lambert remained undefeated at 9-0, moving to 5-0 in Region 5-7A. Central fell to 6-5 overall and 2-3 in region play.
Luthart didn’t address the unusual gap in play with his team until Wednesday’s practice, but he made sure to let them know the importance of not getting complacent. With Central boasting a game-changing player in Callie Fagan, that wasn't an option.
“Our biggest challenge, I think, was coming out the right way, with intensity,” Luthart said. “If you're playing about 37 minutes of soccer, they're going to come at us and empty the tank for 37 minutes. There's not trying to get to halftime and make adjustments. Everything they have, they're going to throw at us.”
Lambert succeeded on that front. Madison Haugen converted a penalty kick with 32:40 to play, and a few minutes later, she scored again to widen Lambert’s lead to four. In last week’s first half, Haugen opened scoring by converting a one-on-one chance, meaning she secured a hat trick, her third over the last four games. With 32:43 left in the first half, Brooke Schuyler made it 2-0.
“(Haugen's) the one showing up on the score sheets, but we have such a variety of players that are serving her those balls,” Luthart said. “If they key on Maddie and shut her down, we've got several other players that could hurt them and that's the balance that's going to hopefully make you successful long term.”
The delay wasn’t totally a negative for Lambert, as it gave the Longhorns a chance to recuperate. Due to an illness, Sydney Hennessy was playing in the middle for them in the first half, and on Thursday, Lambert was able to put Melina West at center back again.
“We had more depth in the back this time, and that kept us composed defensively,” Luthart said.
Athletically, the Longhorns feel like they can match up with anyone, but after their week-long affair with the Bulldogs, they feel like their mental game is on point, too. That could be a big factor in the next few weeks.
“Where you get that extra edge is the mental part,” Luthart said. “Now we double back and play everybody again, and it's never easier the second time. That's when that complacency could potentially kick in.”