By Josh Holland
For the Forsyth County News
Lambert’s Madison Haugen already had two goals to her name when she split two defenders as she chased the through ball behind the South Gwinnett back line. The keeper was too far away to come out, and Haugen effortlessly slid the ball by her to cap off her first half hat trick and add to the barrage of goals the Longhorns scored in the first half.
That was Lambert’s sixth goal of the night, and it wouldn’t be their last, as the Longhorns went on to force mercy rule in the first round of the state playoffs as they thrashed South Gwinnett 10-0 at home.
Straight away, the home team dominated possession and were launching shot after shot at the South Gwinnett goal. Seven minutes in, they found the breakthrough thanks to a slick string of passes that set up Faith Ferrer for an easy one-touch tap in inside the six-yard box.
“We want to be dynamic in the attack and I thought in the first half we did that really well,” Longhorns head coach Scott Luthart said. “We want to be efficient in the attack. We didn’t start off that way, but I think we started to be more clinical as the half wore on.”
This gave the Longhorns the momentum to go on and score four more goals within the next five minutes, including two from Taylor Clark within a minute.
Haugen scored two more, including the goal that completed her hat trick with 17 minutes left in the first half, before Frankie Fontana earned Lambert a penalty and consequently buried it to make it 7-0.
Thanks to two more goals before halftime, the top-ranked team in the state needed just one goal in the second half to force mercy rule, which only took them three minutes.
“We put some challenges on them in the locker room today and basically talked about playoff mentality and how that’s different than regular season,” Luthart said. “The challenge was making sure that the final score and the performance shows the difference between a number one seed and a number four seed.”
The Longhorns are set to host Peachtree Ridge next week in the second round of the playoffs.
Lambert boys put Rockdale County away late
The Lambert boys soccer team entered Wednesday’s first-round state playoff matchup against Rockdale County with just one loss to its name, but the Bulldogs proved to be no easy out. At halftime, the score was knotted at 0-0.
Lambert were applying relentless pressure late in the second half when they won yet another corner. As the in-swinger came in, the Rockdale County keeper struggled to get to the ball and Hayden Fontana was at the back post to nudge the ball into the back of the net with just 12 minutes left.
Lambert went on to win 2-0 in the first round of the state playoffs on Wednesday night in a demanding game where the fourth-seeded Bulldogs looked capable at times of springing an upset.
For the majority of the game, the scoreboard sat at 0-0 but that didn’t mean there was a lack of excitement in the play on the field. Lambert held a slight edge in the amount of possession, but Rockdale County still managed to get forward and create chances to worry the home team.
“The first round is always tough because you have butterflies, you’re excited you made it,” Lambert head coach Chris Wilson said after the game. “I think once you get over that, the butterflies go away and you start to play soccer ... But we’ll have to pick up the intensity.”
Late in the second half, it was clear Rockdale’s energy level was falling and this only out them under more pressure. They became less sharp in defense, which showed in the two goals that they gave up late.
“We possessed well, we just need to pick it up in the final third,” Wilson said. “But they were very organized in the back, which prevented us from doing that.”
Lambert’s second goal came with a minute left on another corner to put the win beyond all doubt. The Longhorns are set to host Collins Hill next week in the second round of the playoffs.