By Steven Watkins
For the Forsyth County News
When South Forsyth’s Andrew Shah was fouled within the box at just over 16 minutes into the second game of Friday night’s doubleheader, visiting Central keeper Juan Gonzalez, already with five saves in the half, crouched within the net and prepared himself to make a sixth.
South’s PJ Mollenauer shot hard to his left, Gonzalez dove and the game’s only goal sailed just wide of his fingertips in the War Eagles’ 1-0 victory Friday.
“What can I say? It was a busy night,” said Gonzalez. “We did everything we could. It was an unlucky penalty.”
In spite of a spectacular seven-save performance, Gonzalez’s Bulldogs couldn’t seem to cash in on a plentiful number of opportunities, shooting a frustrating five times to South’s 10 yet threatening early and often throughout the second period.
With four saves of his own, South goalkeeper Aarnav Sandhu helped lead a stellar defensive effort by the War Eagles that repeatedly turned away increasingly-urgent Central attempts as the game went on.
“He keeps us in ballgames,” South head coach Tom Braun said. “We had a little difficult time scoring. We had a bunch of corners, and we just couldn’t finish tonight, but he kept us in the game, and when your goalkeeper and defenders can pitch a shutout and a clean sheet, we are always in the game.”
On the girls side, one of Central goalkeeper Alaina Giangiobbe’s five saves may have ultimately been the deciding play in her squad’s 3-1 road win.
Around 12 minutes to play in a fiercely back-and-forth first half, South’s Riley McBride threaded her way deep into Bulldogs territory and kicked a looping shot off of a rebound toward the corner of the Central goal.
Facing the sun, Giangiobbe bobbled the ball, spun around and caught it with her back to the field, saving the goal and keeping the game scoreless.
“So the sun was really bad that first half,” Giangiobbe said. “That went right in that corner when I went to grab it, and luckily it was going slow enough and I thought about it quick enough to turn and grab it.”
In the 11th minute of the second period, Central’s Callie Fagan hustled and crossed a ball in the box where teammate Alexis Sherman knocked in the game’s first goal. Five minutes later, Cagan scored an unassisted goal of her own, blowing open what had largely been a stalemate to that point.
“I think adrenaline,” said Cagan on her offensive outburst. “I just wanted to score, and I wanted to win this game, so I had to make it happen.”
The third of Central’s goals occurred on one of many “short” corner kicks, on which the Bulldogs elected to tap the ball in with a pair of attackers rather than kick it into the box.
“Well if no one’s going to play defense on us we’re just going to keep trying it,” said Central head coach Angela Camp, who’s squad won their second straight region game this week. “We kind of started a little slow, but then came around the second half and played well.”