It didn't take long for Lambert's halftime adjustments to pay off.
Nine minutes into the second half, Kendall Page scoped forward Caroline Casperson streaking down Forsyth Central's side of the field, then laid a perfect pass in front of her. Casperson corralled Page's pass and beat Central's keeper one on one, putting the ball into the net to break the scoreless tie.
Casperson's goal proved to be the game-winner Friday as No. 4 Lambert doubled its region win total with a 1-0 win against the Bulldogs.
"The pass by Kendall was a professional pass," Lambert coach Scott Luthart said. "I mean, it's an undercut ball that has to check up nicely on a wet surface. Caroline really didn't have to break stride. It was like a place setting at a table for her right there. It's almost one of those ones where you're like, 'Does she have too much time to think about it where she can overthink it and shoot it at the goalkeeper,' but she did a great job of finishing with a clinical finish on the other end. But that's a highlight reel type pass. That's the one you send to the college scouts."
Casperson and forward Isabella Weigle alternated shots on goal throughout the first half but couldn't find the net.
Central never found the equalizer but managed to test a Lambert back line that graduated current Tennessee freshman Sydney Hennessey and lost a Division I commit earlier this season to injury.
"I thought we had three really legitimate, good opportunities on goal," Central coach Angela Camp said. "We weren't able to finish them and they were able to finish the one. Congrats to them, they're always a great team and play well. We played well, we played with heart. If we'd played like this the whole season, we'd probably be undefeated right now."
One of those opportunities came midway through the second half, when Avery Berryman stole possession and led the counter into Lambert's half of the field. Berryman found Brielle Laberge, who had about a step on a pair of Lambert defenders up the left side, but her shot sailed right of the goal.
Berryman — a sophomore — and Laberge — a freshman — are two of seven underclassmen starting for Central.
"We have some very creative young ladies," Camps said. "They're new to the program, so they're young. We've got a lot of babies and a lot of seniors. Once they learn what each other is going to do every time, I think they'll pretty much be unstoppable."
Perhaps Central's best chance all game came in the 74th minute when a shot drew Lambert keeper Karlie Cabrera out of position and away from the net.
With an open goal, Kate Borner scurried in front of the net and sacrificed her body to block the shot.
"We're going to have to go back and look at film and kind of look at what we need to work on and make sure we don't get stretched that much defensively again," Luthart said. "Of course, they're one of the faster teams in regards to overall team speed. They've got speed in all kinds of different places, so that kind of caught us by surprise a little bit."
Central and Lambert are both playing with an injection of Development Academy players after U.S. Soccer shuttered the youth soccer arm that prevented top-level players from competing for their high school teams.
Four Lambert players, including Borner, are to new to Lambert after playing with the Development Academy, while Page and Maddie Franz played for the Longhorns in 2019 but not last season.
Similarly, Central has two center backs and two forwards who played for the Development Academy last season.
"Last year, I think we only played Central once and it was pretty convincing, but I knew based on some of the shifting in the club landscape, they'd get some quality," Luthart said. "I mean, they're always well coached and they're organized, but adding the organization defensively that they typically have with their coaches and their staff, and they're adding some definite quality from DA off of that, I knew they'd be head and shoulders above where they were last year. That 80 minutes proves it."
Lambert (5-0-1, 2-0 Region 6-7A) will be tested Tuesday when the Longhorns travel to Blessed Trinity, the top-ranked team in Class 5A.
Central (3-3-1, 1-1 Region 6-7A) will look to get back in the win column Friday at home against North Forsyth.