By Alan Cole
For the Forsyth County News
SNELLVILLE — Thursday night’s Class 7A girls soccer quarterfinal between Lambert and Brookwood looked destined for overtime after the Longhorns missed a golden opportunity with three minutes to play.
Rylee Huffman had a gaping net on a rebound from a saved free kick, but her shot went over the bar. At that point, even the coaches were resigned to overtime.
It never came.
Abbi Vogel scored the game-winning goal on Lambert’s next attack, tucking home another rebound opportunity with 1:55 remaining to give the Longhorns a 2-1 win.
Lambert will host Walton next week in the Class 7A Final Four. Walton had its own dramatic quarterfinal victory Thursday, winning 3-2 over Dunwoody in overtime.
“We felt like we left a goal out there in that instance,” Lambert head coach Scott Luthart said. "If you've coached long enough, you could see that then turning around and catching us the other way. To our credit, instead of playing out the last two minutes and hitting the reset button for overtime, we still got after it and created that chance. I guess we learned from it; that one we kept on frame.”
The top-ranked Longhorns needed almost the entire 80 minutes to keep its undefeated season alive and advance to the semifinals. Lambert carried the play for most of the afternoon with a 17-7 advantage in shots, but a resilient Brookwood defense held out for almost the entire contest.
Lambert started the day with the lion's share of possession and shots, and eventually that paid off just before halftime. Stella Allen uncorked a long ball from the center circle just under 10 minutes before the break, and Emmerson Zimmerman managed to control it enough for a half volley that looped into the back of the net.
It took only two minutes for the Broncos to get back on level terms. Sydney Farr gathered a loose ball in the middle of the penalty area and took Brookwood’s first shot on target of the game. It found the back of the net past a diving Heidi Harris, tying the score just 2:14 after Lambert opened the scoring.
“We played them back in February and it was one of my favorite games of the year,” Luthart said. “They have some showcase-type players, and we feel like we have a bunch of them as well. Any time you feel like you’re one of those teams in the state that has a chance to go all the way, you love matching up a team like that.”
The biggest chance of the second half went to the home team despite Lambert’s pressure. Allie Wardle cut inside from the left wing and launched a shot that looked destined for the top corner with 15 minutes remaining, but Harris made a leaping catch in net to preserve the tie.
With the clock ticking down to just over three minutes remaining and the score knotted at one, the Longhorns earned a free kick just outside the penalty area. That free kick was saved by Brookwood goalkeeper Peyton Rhodes, but she spilled it right out to Ruffman.
Rhodes was still down on the ground after the save, but Ruffman’s shot sailed over the bar.
That looked like the final nail in the regulation coffin, but Vogel had other ideas with 1:55 remaining on the rebound.
“I saw the shot and thought she was going to miss it,” Vogel said on the initial shot. “I came up and just shot it [the rebound].”
Buoyed by Vogel’s late marker, the Longhorns survived the final two minutes to reach the semifinals, leaving Brookwood with a second elimination against Lambert in as many postseasons.