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Lacrosse: West boys fall to Centennial in quarterfinals to end season
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West Forsyth's Chris Neal maneuvers around the crease with a Centennial player defending him on Friday, May 10, 2019 at Centennial High School in Roswell. - photo by David Almeda

Down six goals towards the end of the third quarter, West Forsyth’s boys lacrosse team was desperately trying anything it could.

The Wolverines had played well to open their quarterfinal matchup against Centennial on Friday night, but after the opening period, the Knights had maintained a firm grip on the game. With 5:31 left in the third, West’s Chris Neal got an open look at the goal, but when he shot, the ball went wide, and he forcefully lowered his stick to the turf in frustration.

Moments like that had been all too common for West since the first quarter, and ultimately, despite their brief competitive start, the Wolverines fell to the Knights 14-4 in Roswell, ending their season at 13-7 overall.

“(Centennial) got the best of us tonight,” West coach John Laden said. “They’re a very good lacrosse team. We battled from beginning to end, and for that, I'm very proud of our guys.”

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West Forsyth players watch the final minutes of their quarterfinal matchup from the bench on Friday, May 10, 2019 at Centennial High School. - photo by David Almeda
West scored the game’s first goal with 10:44 left in the first quarter, when Josh Bell connected from the right side of the net for the first of just two Wolverine leads. Centennial tied it at 1-1 just over six minutes later, but the Wolverines played well defensively to limit the Knights’ offense attack.

Sam Tuck opened the second quarter with a score to give West a 2-1 edge, but Centennial answered with six straight goals to end the first half, giving the Knights a solid 7-2 advantage.

“We came out hot and we were moving the ball well,” Bell said. “We fought for ground balls hard, but as the game went on we got a little tired.”

For the rest of the game, Centennial continued to attack West’s goal often. The Wolverines slowed their pace a bit by allowing just one goal in the third, but the Knights outscored their opposition 6-1 in the fourth to secure the win.

“There were some calls that didn’t go exactly our way, not to blame it on that,” Laden said. “They’re a good transition team and they know when to attack, not only in outright transitions, but transitional moments.”

In the midst of that attack, West still tried to get back in it, taking any shot they could. Bell scored his second goal with 3:09 left in the third to make it 8-3, and Neal added one early in the fourth. A good amount of West's shots were off the mark, though.

“You miss some, and in games like that, you've just got to take as many shots as you can and try to get them to go in,” Bell said.

Friday’s loss ended the high school careers of Bell and many other seniors, a group responsible for a three-year stretch of success at West. Looking to the future, the Wolverines hope their influence will last for years to come.

“We didn't want the season to end like this, but our guys battled and did everything we asked,” Laden said. “We had 16 seniors, and they set a very good precedent for this program in terms of expectations. That's where we are moving forward.”