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Lacrosse: Wolverines pull away from War Eagles to remain undefeated
West Forsyth's Avery Grace Jones prepares to pass to a teammate during an Area 4-7A matchup Monday at South Forsyth. (Photo by Nicholas Sullivan)

Every time the South Forsyth girls lacrosse team appeared to be gaining momentum, West Forsyth answered during an Area 4-7A matchup Monday at War Eagle Stadium.

The most decisive response from the Wolverines came in the form of an 8-1 run to end the first half. However, West Forsyth also put together a key 4-0 spurt in the second to pull away for a 15-8 victory.

“I’m always proud of these girls,” Wolverines head coach John Kiefer said. “The one thing they always do is show up to play. That’s why we play a tough schedule.

“You can’t take anything away from South. They came out and competed on the circle. They were patient in their sets. I give credit where credit is due, South played a good game.”

Following a pair of early goals from West Forsyth's Hannah Savage and Ansley Athey inside the opening 3:15, South Forsyth reeled off three straight goals in a four-minute span.

Olivia Smith scored the opener for the War Eagles (4-4, 2-2). Channing Payne came through with the equalizer, and Kate Dominick found the back of the het to put the hosts ahead.

It took only 26 seconds for the Wolverines to restore parity, as Bryn Birkholz finished off a lightning quick offensive set.

“We made an adjustment at the middle position,” Kiefer said of what changed after South Forsyth took the lead. “We took one of our middies and put her on defense. She’s a lights-out defender. Anytime we do that, we’re way better on defense, but it takes a middle away.

“We don’t want to get into that [situation] every game. But defense wins games.”

Following the defensive change, the War Eagles didn't score again until the 3:56 mark of the half — just after taking a timeout in the aftermath of the Wolverines' sixth straight strike.

Even that momentum was short-lived, with Cate Cummings firing home a shot for a 9-4 halftime advantage.

Dominick and Allie Magers registered goals early in the second half on either side of West Forsyth's Noelle Kirley completing her hat trick. Having pulled within 10-6, South Forsyth had a golden opportunity to put further pressure on the visitors.

Instead, Wolverines goalie Emma Anderson denied a 1-v-1 chance. From that point forward, Anderson's presence seemed to impact every War Eagles shot, with plenty being sent high or wide. 

“Emma saves us, obviously,” Kiefer said. “Any great goalie is going to save your defense. She’s an All-American. We’re lucky to have her. …

“I think that [one save] kind of set the tone in the second half. We kind of pulled away at that point.”

Four different West Forsyth players scored during the ensuing run. Similarly, different Wolverines scored each of the team's opening six goals.

Cummings led the way with four goals. Savage matched Kirley with a trio of goals, including the capper with 25.9 seconds left after South Forsyth had managed to find the back of the net twice in the final minutes.

Birkholz added two goals for the Wolverines, while Dominick, Magers and Smith led the War Eagles with a pair of goals apiece.

“When you have options and you have girls who can be productive, you’re really tough to defend, especially if you can stay patient,” Kiefer said. “Sometimes, we get into our set, and we have a lot of good girls who want to score goals. If we stay patient in our sets, we have much better offense. We just can’t always go with the first option.”

Having now opened the season with four wins in as many tries — all of which have come against area foes – Kiefer believes his team will only get better as the players get more game time.

“I think figuring out the puzzle pieces to put together, figuring out how we’re best on the field with our kids and what makes us a great team,” Kiefer said of wht will take his team to the next level. “We’re only four games in, so we have a lot of time. Hopefully by the time May comes, we’ll be peaking and we’ll have all of our puzzle pieces figured out.”