Andrew Johnson remembers it well.
The first goal of his varsity career came during his sophomore year. Johnson, a left back for North Forsyth’s boys soccer team, naturally doesn’t get too many chances at goal.
But he made that one count.
“It was a completely unintentional goal,” Johnson said, “but I scored it from about 40 yards out.”
Johnson served as one of the captains on North Forsyth’s boys soccer team, entering his senior year with a focus on conditioning and training and looking to make an impact in his final year with the Raiders.
But Johnson suffered a preseason injury to his thumb, which kept him out of most of the season. Then last month, the GHSA put the spring season on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic, ultimately canceling the remainder of the season on Thursday.
“It’s been kind of taking a toll on me when it comes to spring sports because I’ve been looking forward to my senior year,” Johnson said. “At the beginning of the season I got injured and it took me out for half the season, and then I finally get back only to play about two games and then the school gets shut down because this outbreak is shutting everything down.”
The injury happened one day after practice, when Johnson hopped over a fence to retrieve a stray ball. Upon jumping over the fence the second time, Johnson felt his thumb go against his leg and then heard a pop.
The thumb was broken and he would need surgery.
“I know Andrew’s hurting a little because he just got back to play,” North Forsyth head coach Jared Steinberg said. “He’s been out all season with his thumb injury, and he was just put back on the field literally six nights before the season ended. I know it hurts him to have missed so much of his senior season anyway, on top of what’s happened since the season’s been suspended.”
Johnson said he’s hoping to play soccer in college and was hoping his senior season would provide a bump in exposure.
“Originally, Oglethorpe was supposed to come watch me during high school season, but the injury happened and then all this shutdown happened, so it’s kind of slowed things down,” Johnson said. “But I’m still praying and hoping they take me into consideration.”
Johnson is one of nine seniors on North Forsyth’s boys soccer team, joining Ade Ajayi, Cameron Cummings, Enrique Gasca, Conner Martin, Christian Pedraza, Dakota Staiger, Carson Tomassetti and Rafael Zurita.
Johnson and Tomassetti are both captains and have been in the program all four years.
Tomassetti started all 10 games for the Raiders and finished with two goals.
“The senior class, they’re leaders, they’re upbeat and they’re always positive,” Steinberg said. “They’re always trying to get the best out of each other and trying to get the best out of themselves. They just want what’s good for the program as a whole.”
Emma Williams is one of four seniors on North Forsyth’s girls soccer team, which also includes captain Lakelee Aldrich, Kaylee Baldwin and Lexi Lomax.
“We definitely have been together a while,” Williams said. “I remember sophomore year, Lakelee Aldrich and I would always sit in the locker room and talk about, ‘Oh, when we’re seniors it’s going to be so much fun and we’re going to have our senior season and our senior night.’ We were talking the other day about that. Obviously we’re disappointed, but we are appreciative of what we have been able to get done so far, and that we have had a great three years and a great part of the season for senior year.”
Williams’ career will continue at Piedmont College, while Baldwin signed to Berry College, Lomax signed to LaGrange and Aldrich will play at Columbia College (S.C.).
“Our team this year was getting really close, which is one of the most important parts of it,” Williams said. “But to be about halfway through the season and have it get cut short is disappointing, especially for our seniors. It’s been a season that we’ve been looking forward to for about three years now. And not having senior night or anything like that — we’re worried about it.”
Williams, a four-year starter for the Raiders and captain the past two seasons, scored seven goals from her midfielder position, including three last year.
Baldwin had a hat trick this season, converting eight shots on goal into four goals in a 10-0 rout of Gilmer County. Lomax started all nine games for the Raiders this season, scoring a goal and logging an assist, while Aldrich dished three assists this year.
“On the girls team, you can look at players that have been with the program for four years — players like Emma Williams or Lakelee Aldrich — and the fact that they have given so much to the team as leaders, as captains of the team, trying to keep the team together through some of the tougher times that we’ve faced,” Steinberg said. “They’re the type of players that we’re really going to miss their leadership next season.”