The two head coaches met at midfield after South Forsyth’s 14-8 victory at North Forsyth on Monday after players shook hands to commiserate over the War Eagles’ final two regular season games.
“You’re laughing because we’ve still got Centennial and Lambert left,” South head coach John Garrish said.
“Hey, we’ve already had to deal with them,” North head coach Don Hilton said.
Indeed, the games ahead for South boys lacrosse are, by virtually every statistical measure, daunting ones. They will be the last games South (6-10, 1-5 Area 3-AAAAAA) remembers from this season, and they may be the most challenging yet in an area crammed with some of the state’s elite teams.
The final stretch begins Thursday at No. 3-ranked Centennial (13-2) and finishes Friday against county rival and No. 1-ranked Lambert (14-2). South last defeated Centennial in 2009. The War Eagles have never defeated the Longhorns and have been outscored 75-5 in five meetings.
So Monday was the right way to prepare for what awaits: The War Eagles took control early, controlled possession and altogether cruised to victory against the Raiders.
“I think it gives us a little bit of confidence, sure,” Garrish said, “but we’ve always said we can play with anybody, and we’ve seen it in spurts but we’ve not been able to put it together for many different reasons.”
Drew Thomson led South with five goals, including three straight between the third and fourth quarters. Matt D’Amico and Andrew Lempner had two goals and two assists each, Dawson Draper scored twice and Kyle Guenther added another goal.
Jack Connaughton led North (8-8, 0-7) with three goals, Chase Chapman and Mason Jolley both scored two goals and Brady Grindle added a goal.
Grindle’s goal cut South’s lead to 7-4 with 9:04 left in the third quarter, but South responded, going on a 5-1 run to end the quarter and take a comfortable 12-6 lead.
“I absolutely loved their effort,” Garrish said. “We talked about how we needed to win groundballs, and it was an adventure at times, but I think when we look at the stat sheet we probably did, which means we won the possession. More often than not possession wins the game. That’s exactly what I told them at the beginning of the game – win possession and win the game.”
To that end, North struggled. The Raiders batted around groundballs, unable to corral them. Three times they played a man up after a South penalty – once for three minutes – but couldn’t take advantage. Twice they found the wide open shooter only for the attackman to whiff on the attempt.
It was a confounding effort for a Raiders team that just recently had won six out of seven games to ignite its season.
“South really brought it,” Hilton said. “They played a great game, and bottom line they outplayed us. There are no scapegoats except to look at the man in the mirror, and we’re the ones we’ve got to look at. We’ve been having a great season so far, and we’re looking to finish strong against West [on Wednesday].”