This week is perhaps the most important one yet of the Lambert girls soccer team’s season, one where the Longhorns are fighting to stay at the top of the Region 5-7A standings through challenges from West Forsyth and Milton, two of the most talented teams in the region.
Tuesday’s result at West, a 6-5 win in penalties after scoreless regulation and extra time periods, was a solid first step for the Longhorns.
“I feel like we worked really hard to get to the position we’re at,” said Lambert sophomore Ellie Prybylski, who scored the winning goal in the penalty shootout. “We really want to clinch the first (seed) in region and be able to add another one to our resume.”
Lambert’s 7-1 record in region play is still good for a one game lead for first, as South Forsyth beat Forsyth Central on Tuesday to put its mark at 6-2.
“I’m most proud of fact that we’ve shut out a very good team with lots of D-I talent twice in a row,” Lambert head coach Scott Luthart said. “(West) is one of the toughest teams in the region to break down defensively, so the fact that we haven’t broken them down and scored a goal in two straight games is a testament to that.”
Monday’s win followed a strikingly similar script to the one Lambert notched over the Wolverines back on March 3. Neither Lambert (9-3-0, 7-1 Region 5-7A) nor West (8-7-0, 3-5) could sufficiently dent each other’s back line, and occasional spurts of offense fell short.
Thirteen minutes into the second half, the Longhorns sent a ball across the face of goal and forced Wolverines goalkeeper A.J. Needham to make a point-blank save; about 14 minutes later, West’s Carsen Parker ripped a strike off the upper left corner of Lambert’s goal.
The extra time periods passed quietly. M.E. Craven was the hero in penalties the last time the two teams went that far, but the Longhorns and Wolverines were still knotted after she converted her chance. Lambert keeper Jordyn Ebert saved West’s next shot, however, and Prybylski slotted a ball into the right side of the net to seal the win. It was the first time she had scored the goal to clinch a shootout win.
“I was so nervous,” Prybylski said. “I was just so happy I got it in.”
West is still on course to be one of the four teams to make the state playoffs, though they’re locked into the No. 4 seed, due to their two losses against Milton, even if they win out. Lambert is on track for a region title, but it can't falter and fall into a tie with South, who owns the tiebreaker over the Lady Longhorns.
In the boys game, Lambert beat West 3-0, with a goal from Pablo Samur in the first half and two more, from Dean Bogarde and Eoin Griffiths, coming after the break.
That win helped the Longhorns keep a hold on first place in the region but are currently tied with South, although they lead the War Eagles in goal differential. Lambert’s record improved to 8-3-0 and 7-1-0 in the region, while West dropped to 4-11-0 and 1-7-0.