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Soccer: War Eagles sweep Raiders
South girls romp; boys need late rally
sports-SFNFboys1-websmall JP
South Forsyth players celebrate with Drew Witalis after he scored the go-ahead goal against North Forsyth on Friday at War Eagle Field. - photo by Jared Putnam

Rachel Shah knows that players often take special pride in ruining an opponent’s Senior Night with a loss, because she enjoys doing it herself. 

She wasn’t about to let that happen to South Forsyth’s upperclassmen.

Shah finished with two goals and an assist, and the No. 5-ranked Lady War Eagles rebounded from their worst loss of the season with a 4-0 victory over North Forsyth on Friday at War Eagle Field. Later in the night, South’s boys defeated North 2-1.

"I know that whenever we play another school [having its] Senior Night, we want to ruin [it]," Shah said. "We did not want that to happen for our seniors, so we played for them and we also wanted to redeem ourselves for [losing to Milton]."

South (12-3, 10-2 Region 6-AAAAAA) was coming off a 3-0 non-region loss to Milton on Tuesday — the team’s first game since a two-week layoff for spring break.

"It was real important [to bounce back tonight], being a region game and a county game," Lady War Eagles head coach Tom Braun said.

"We had the spring break lag in our legs Tuesday night and it really showed when we played a good Milton team. I think we learned a lot ... and it was a great effort tonight."

South scored its first goal in the 19th minute when Mackenzie Norton sent a shot into the bottom right corner of the net off a pass from Shah. Blakely McDonald found almost the exact same spot in the net in the 32nd minute off an assist from Tricia Surber to put the Lady War Eagles ahead 2-0 going into halftime.

North (6-10, 2-10) never mounted a serious threat in the second half and produced only three shots in the game.

"We have made great improvements since the last time we saw them, but we just didn’t show it today," North head coach Dana Chapman said. "For whatever reason, whether it was [coming off] spring break or just an off night for us, we just did not play up to our potenial."

Shah scored her first goal a little more than six minutes into the second half. The junior forward took a through ball from Brie Haynes and fired a shot that landed inside the right post from 10 yards out.

Shah appeared to tack on another insurance goal in the 60th minute after collecting her own rebound and kicking the ball in the net from close range, but the referee waved the goal off due to a hand ball and awarded her a penalty kick.

The call only delayed the inevitable.

Shah stepped up and kicked the ball inside the right post to boost South’s lead to 4-0 — the team’s largest margin of victory this season.

"I would have been so mad if I’d missed that PK," Shah said, "so I was like, ‘I’ve got to get it in.’"

South is tied with rival Lambert atop the Region 6 standings with only two region games remaining. The Lady War Eagles host West Forsyth on Tuesday at 5:55 p.m., while North Forsyth hosts Chattahoochee at the same time.

South Forsyth (boys) 2, North Forsyth 1

Numbers alone often fail to give the whole story of a game. Then there the statistics from the South Forsyth-North Forsyth boys soccer game, which tell some blatant lies.

South out-shot North 28-3, but the game was anything but a rout on the scoreboard.

The War Eagles saw one shot after another miss by a matter of inches and needed late goals from Efrain Canedo and Drew Witalis to rally and beat the Raiders 2-1 on Friday at War Eagle Field.

"[North] put a little scare in us and it was good — maybe some of us woke up a little bit," South head coach Tom Braun said. "It’s just a good win but aggravating in a way, too.

"We missed at least maybe 10 balls [that were] a foot away from the goal. That’s just the game, it’s a game of inches and close doesn’t count."

The War Eagles (10-5, 7-5 Region 6-AAAAAA) struggled, in part, because of North goalkeeper Alex Hanson, who made several nice saves to keep the score 0-0 until a collision with South’s Kameron Tauber forced him out of the game nine minutes into the second half. He was replaced by Javier Ramirez.

"[Alex] brings not only the talent of stopping shots but also the talent of leading the team," North head coach Jeff Jagr said.

"It’s a bummer that he went down, but Javy is a great keeper too. "Those two goals weren’t really his fault. We were fortunate to be able to kind of match up with [South], not only keeping-wise, but also defensively our back four did an excellent job tonight."

The Raiders (1-13-1, 1-10) scored less than two minutes after their starting keeper left when Brandon Herbert sent a shot into the bottom right corner of the net in the 52nd minute.

The War Eagles provided several more close calls until Canedo found a breakaway opportunity in the 66th minute. Ramirez tried to make a diving save 15 yards in front of the net, but Canedo wound up with a clear path to the goal and tied the game with a kick from five yards away.

South missed several more strong scoring chances after that and appeared headed to overtime until Witalis headed in a corner kick from Owen Christiansen with 1:32 remaining in the game.

The War Eagles have won eight of their last nine games after enduring a four-game losing streak early in the season. They are tied with West Forsyth and Johns Creek for third place in Region 6 with two region games remaining.

"Us three are fighting it out for those last two spots and we knew that, so this was a critical, must-win game for us," Braun said. "Fortunately, we pulled it out."