By Steven Watkins
For the Forsyth County News
With four emotional, back-and-forth quarters and one scoreless overtime period in the books, the South Forsyth and West Forsyth lacrosse teams lined up on the wet grass of Wolverine Stadium with one shared, literal goal in mind: the single goal needed to break the 9-9 tie and earn the Friday night region win.
The Wolverines had clawed their way back from an 8-4 third-quarter deficit and had forced overtime in the final six seconds, courtesy of an excellent feed by junior Chris Hutnick and an acrobatic shot by senior Landon Day.
Both teams had seen scoring opportunities in the initial overtime period, and both teams had squandered them with sloppy passes resulting in possession exchanges.
For the second time since the end of regulation, the referee dropped the rubber game ball in the center of the field, and for the 15th time of the night, midfielder Ethan Duerk earned his team possession.
The War Eagles fed the ball gradually in the direction of the crease — losing it briefly, but recovering — until it found the mesh belonging to Chris Vitucci.
The midfielder darted at his defender, rolled to his inside and fired the winning shot into the opposing net, giving South a 10-9 victory.
“Honestly, it was pretty much a blur,” Vitucci said. “They were playing me the same all night, so I knew that I could take the guy I had one-on-one. I looked at him, I switched to my left, and it wasn’t really a great shot, but I put it in.”
The goal was Vitucci’s second of the night on a trio of shots, finishing him behind West midfielder Oscar Delp’s three goals on eight shots and teammate Ryan Lightsey, who netted 4 of 7 with one assist.
South used a calm, calculating offensive approach throughout the contest, settling the ball consistently between transitions rather than opting for the quick shots, and ultimately outshot their hosts 36-29.
“For this game, we definitely talked about possessing the ball,” South coach Steve Hurlbut said. “If you look at any stat, possessions win games. And the more we possessed the ball, the better chance we had at winning, so we really wanted to slow the ball down and play to our favor.”
In addition to South’s controlled pace, Duerk’s 15 successful faceoffs on the night greatly aided the War Eagles' offense, with the midfielder losing on only four attempts — each of them due to violations.
“Our faceoff was amazing tonight,” Hurlbut said. “He does a heck of a job not only in this game, but in every game."
Carter Petersen put South ahead early, netting his lone goal on three shots in the opening minutes and sending the War Eagles into the second quarter with a 1-0 lead.
The Wolverines answered with the game’s first run, with Zach Avila, William Bennett, and Delp scoring a trio of goals to give West a 3-1 lead.
The two teams exchanged scores before South netted the first two of what ultimately would be six straight goals — tying the game 4-4 at the half and doubling their opponent’s score midway through the third quarter — with the South sideline erupting in celebration during a West timeout immediately following Lightsey’s third goal of the night.
West fought its way back, chipping away at the lead with a goal from Day and a pair from Delp, completing their run on a beautiful attack from midfielder Greyson Brockman, who weaved his way through multiple defenders and ignited the Wolverine sideline with his game-tying shot in the final two minutes, only to watch South retake the lead seconds later on a weird bounce that led to Lightsey’s fourth goal of the night.
A late man-up opportunity and a beautiful Hutnick—Day connection in the final seconds sent the game to overtime, but the Wolverines had scored their final goal of the night.
“We really competed, and I’m proud of the way we came back,” West coach John Laden said. “We fought and kept on fighting until the end, and it’s hard to lose in double-overtime to anyone, especially a rival like South. But they did a good job. We did too, and someone had to lose.”