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Lacrosse: South Forsyth overcomes 4-goal deficit to win OT thriller
South Forsyth senior Ethan Duerk lets off a shot Wednesday during the War Eagles' 12-11 overtime win against Johns Creek. - photo by David Roberts

By Derrick Richemond

For the Forsyth County News

Clay Walsh delivered four goals Wednesday as South Forsyth's boys lacrosse team came from behind to defeat Johns Creek 12-11 in overtime thriller.

After ending West Forsyth’s winning streak last week, the War Eagles came back to snap Johns Creek’s four-game run.

It was a rough start for the War Eagles as Johns Creek scored four straight goals to open the match. On a positive note, South senior Ethan Duerk was virtually unstoppable in the face-off circle, winning 26 of 27 face-offs. 

War Eagles head coach Adrian Antonini said he envisioned Duerk winning every face-off.

“I know it sounds crazy, but he’s a DI Jacksonville University commit,” Antonini said. “I expected him to do that all time, and he finally did what he’s capable of doing.” 

With 9:30 left in the second quarter, Carter Peterson took on a double team and fired a shot into the net to end South's offensive slump. 

Soon after that, James Margiotta came down the middle, fired a shot and scores, which is when the War Eagles started to gather up momentum. 

South went on score two more goals before halftime, as Clay Walsh got into the action, followed by JD Cheatham, who got the goal to tie the game.

Johns Creek responded with two goals of its own. The final goal of the half came from Ryan Black finding Jake Snow with 9.3 seconds left.

At halftime, War Eagles goalkeeper Ethan Barlag had already tallied 14 goals. In South's previous game against West Forsyth, Barlag saved that amount the whole game.

In the beginning stages of the third quarter, Snow jumped into the passing lane, intercepts South’s pass, and won a one-on-one with Barlag to increase the lead 7-4.

On the very next possession, Cheatham tried to bounce his shot into the goal and misses. However, Johns Creek's goalie missed the ball by a hair, which is when Margiotta swung his lacrosse stick like a golf club ball and shot the ball into the goal. 

Then Everett Barlag went straight up the middle untouched and attacked the goal to bring the War Eagles within a score.

Both teams traded goals after that, and South's Austin Uidel scored the last goal of the quarter to cut Johns Creek's lead to 8-7.

Forty seconds into the fourth quarter, Walsh found Cheatham in the middle, who sent a missile into the net for the tie. It started to become a back-and-forth scoring game,  with Johns Creek later scoring. But Walsh ended up answering after hitting his defender with a spin move to score.

Walsh scored a hat trick on a sneaky goal to give South's lead of the game, but Johns Creek didn’t go away that easily. Snow fired back by completing a hat trick of his own to send his team into overtime.

Antonini told his team that they were going to take the last possession and win it.

“It's an unbelievable group of young men. Those kids are warriors,” Antonini said. “There’s not much I can tell these guys outside of how much I love them, how much I thank them for how hard they work. I’m coming into a program where they haven’t beat Johns Creek ever, and those kids wanted it.”

Luke Specker passed the ball to Walsh, who hammered it into the back of the net 11 seconds into overtime for the game-winning goal.  

“We started slow. We fought as a team came back. It was crazy,” Walsh said “Don’t sleep on us, don’t take us for granted.”