Quality beats quantity every time, or so the argument goes. Rachel Shah and South Forsyth’s girls soccer team made a strong case for it against Lambert.
South was out-shot by Lambert 9-1 in the second half, but Shah’s blast was the only one that mattered.
Shah sent a 17-yard kick just inside the right post in the 76th minute to give the No. 9-ranked Lady War Eagles a 1-0 win — their first against the Lady Longhorns in program history — on Tuesday at War Eagle Field. Even more impressive, Shah’s game-winning score came despite the fact that South was competing with only 10 players on the field after losing a starter to her second yellow card earlier in the second half.
"It’s amazing," Shah said of the feeling after the win. "It’s a huge rivalry and last year we were so close [to beating them] because we lost on [penalty kicks], so we knew we could compete with them and this year we proved it."
Said South coach Tom Braun: "The girls played extremely hard, especially being down a man for 25 minutes. We felt [we received] really unwarranted cards, they were just normal fouls, but it is what it is. ... We beat a good, quality team."
Shah’s goal marked the first time that South had ever even scored against the rival Lady Longhorns.
Lambert defeated South 3-0 in their inaugural meeting in 2011 and the two teams went into last year’s penalty kick shootout locked in a scoreless tie before the Lady Horns came away with a 1-0 victory.
South (5-0, 3-0 Region 6-AAAAAA) and Lambert (3-1, 2-1) were mired in another defensive battle on Tuesday until Shah, a junior committed to Furman University, took a throw-in on the left side of the field and flicked the ball over an on-rushing defender before sending it into the side netting of the far post from about 17 yards out with just over four minutes remaining.
Lambert head coach Scott Luthart credited the Lady War Eagles for their defensive game plan and Shah for her play-making abilities.
"If there’s a player on their roster that you’ve got to be worried about beating you repeatedly, it’s Rachel," Luthart said. "She’s a great player and put the game on her shoulders playing down a man and she figured out a way to get it done. [That was] their only shot of the entire second half and she hits a great strike [to the] far post."
It was a frustrating loss for the Lady Longhorns, who held a lopsided advantage in scoring chances and came close to taking the lead on more than one occasion.
Maggie Hanusek almost put Lambert ahead on a kick from 12 yards out in the 35th minute, but the ball sailed a few inches too high and deflected off the crossbar.
Heather Lacy threatened for Lambert again in the 52nd minute with a free kick that forced South goalkeeper Hannah Goudy to make a leaping stop. The ball ricocheted off Goudy’s outstretched hands and off the crossbar before landing in front of the net, where the keeper corralled it despite absorbing a collision with an opposing player.
Goudy, a sophomore, put her body on the line throughout the night to make saves. She helped preserve South’s win with a diving stop on a 25-yard kick with 15 seconds remaining and followed it by leaping above Lambert’s Bailey Frederking and punching a corner kick out of bounds with three seconds on the clock.
"It’s all worth it, though, because I wanted to beat them so bad," Goudy said. "It just feels good to finally get the win."
South has yet to surrender a goal this season, and four of the team’s five wins have come by a score of 1-0.
Despite scoring only six goals in five games, the Lady War Eagles are the last remaining undefeated team in Region 6. Braun said this is the first time the Lady War Eagles have opened the season 5-0 since he became head coach prior to the 2005 season, and that it could even be the best start in program history.
"I’m really proud of our team," Shah said. "We’re very young and we added a lot of players from JV and they stepped up tonight."
Lambert will face Centennial on Friday in Roswell, while South will try to remain undefeated on the road against Johns Creek. Both games are set to begin at 5:55 p.m.