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Soccer: Lambert survives Forsyth Central in overtime
03102023 LAMBERT
Lambert's Cole Nelson looks to get past Forsyth Central's Cody Parkhurst during a Region 6-7A matchup Tuesday at home. (Photo by Nicholas Sullivan)

The Region 6-7A soccer script writers accidentally produced duplicate copies Tuesday at Forsyth Central.

In both games, the top-five ranked favorite struggled to convert chances, took a 1-0 lead, gave up an equalizer, scored twice quickly in the first overtime and survived a late goal in a 3-2 heart-stopper.

After watching the No. 4 Forsyth Central girls act out the scenario in the evening's opener, the second-ranked Lambert boys followed suit in the nightcap.

Despite dominating possession in the first half, the Longhorns (9-1-1, 2-1) couldn't find a way past a stiff Bulldogs defense. It eventually took a 48th-minute own goal by Forsyth Central (4-5-1, 0-3) to end the stalemate.

In the 56th minute, Lambert struck the post on an unsuccessful penalty kick, once again mimicking the Forsyth Central girls — who similarly smacked the upright with a chance to double their lead.

“When you miss a PK, you give them momentum,” Longhorns head coach Chris Wilson said. “Their keeper made several really good saves. Momentum always swings back and forth. If we score the PK, I think we win 2-0.

“Their coach has always got them fighting hard and working hard. They were 0-2 [in the region]. They needed the win, so I knew they were going to give us a game. … It’s a region match, so anything can happen. Fortunately, we got the win.”

Perhaps because he saw the situation play out earlier that night, Wilson wasn't surprised to see the Bulldogs take advantage of their opportunity to even the score.

With seven minutes to play, reigning region player of the year Lucas Oliveira held the ball up extremely well and worked his way down to the edge of the box. The senior eventually laid the ball off to Andrew Jardines, and the freshman cut inside before firing the ball into the back of the net.

“Central played hard; coach [Will] Gifford always has them organized,” Wilson said. “Missed opportunities led to that on our part, but they fought hard and made a game of it, for sure.”

But the first overtime period, particularly the opening minutes, were all Lambert.

Just seconds into the extra session, the Longhorns received a free kick not far outside of the box. Max Degyansky lined up the shot attempt and laced it beyond Bulldogs goalkeeper Owen Merwarth.

In the blink of an eye, Lambert attacked again. Merwarth stopped the initial shot, but the ball popped perfectly into the path of Eric Wrensen, who volleyed it into the open net 82 seconds into overtime.

While it took the Forsyth Central boys longer than it did the Lambert girls, the Bulldogs eventually cut the deficit back to one goal. With just under five minutes to go in the second overtime period, John Hearn slotted home a penalty kick to keep Forsyth Central's hopes alive until the final whistle.

“We score that brilliant free kick 49 seconds into overtime, and then we score another one real quick because the momentum swung our way,” Wilson said. “We don’t score a couple more, and then the momentum swings back their way.

“It’s always exciting in a region game. Sometimes, you wish that it wasn’t, but I’m proud of my guys for fighting hard and finishing it off.”