Three years ago, Eoin Griffiths and Zane Ziegler were the lone freshmen playing on Lambert’s boys varsity soccer team. Now, they’re seniors, and they’ve played enough soccer together to know how to find each other anywhere on the field, whether 10 or 60 yards apart.
The two put that connection to use in a 6-0 victory against Forsyth Central at home Friday to complete the Longhorns’ first run through the Region 5-7A schedule with another encouraging display of offensive potency.
Both had hat-tricks, while Ziegler assisted on each of Griffiths’ goals to help Lambert (5-3-0, 4-1) remain just a game behind region leader South Forsyth.
“We’ve just gotten to know each other really well on the field over these four years,” Ziegler said. “There’s a little bit of a connection there. His passes are always really good, so I know when he has the ball I can make a good run and he can find me.”
The Longhorns felt their connection was erratic earlier this season. A run of players getting the flu didn’t help, but more so Lambert had a roster split between lower- and upperclassmen in need of melding. Early on, that process manifested in the talented team creating chances but struggling to finish them.
Lambert seems to have made progress, particularly this week. The Longhorns handled region contender Milton in a 4-0 win Tuesday, then dominated Central.
“We’re finally getting that finishing edge,” Lambert head coach Chris Wilson said.
Griffiths showed it first Tuesday. Ziegler found him twice for goals that the Longhorns took in to halftime for a 2-0 lead. Then it was Ziegler’s turn to start the second half, scoring twice within four minutes on a rising strike from dead on and a running header off a corner kick by Trey Hines.
Griffiths added his third goal 10 minutes later, Ziegler sending him a pass in the box that Griffiths chipped over the keeper.
Four minutes later, Ziegler’s finished his hat-trick with a wonderful curling strike from the right that found the top left corner of the net.
“We’re learned how to score goals, that’s for sure,” Ziegler said. “We’ve started burying teams. … We’ve learned how to put them away.”
Lambert girls 5, Forsyth Central 0
The Lady Longhorns scored four times in 12 minutes in the second half to pull away for a Region 5-7A victory Friday at home.
Maddie Haugen had two goals, while Maddie Eddleman had a goal and an assist and Ellie Prybylski and Brooke Schuyler had a goal apiece.
Haugen gave No. 6-ranked Lambert (6-2-0, 4-1) a 1-0 lead in the first half, taking a quick pass from Eddleman and racing down the left side in open space for the goal.
But Lady Longhorns coach Scott Luthart was otherwise displeased with the team’s urgency in the first 40 minutes.
“We were more reactionary first half, and we were a little more proactive second half,” Luthart said. “…We lost a lot of 50-50 challenges in the first half.”
Prybylski struck first 11 minutes in to the second half, and Haugen added her second goal less than a minute later. Schuyler finished a penalty kick 10 minutes later, and Eddleman rebounded a shot by Sydney Hennessey to finish the flurry.
“I just think we were connecting a lot more,” Schuyler said. “We were moving a lot more off the ball, more than in the first half. In the first half we were more stand-still and not moving for each other, and we weren’t getting to balls earlier. But in the second half we moved better.”