Some take the goal keeper for granted, West Forsyth junior Madie Pollack says, and maybe she had too for a while. She’s a defender, after all, and it can be painful work. Instead of swatting opponents’ shots, she fractures their ribs; or at least she did once (on accident, of course) to some poor Mill Creek player.
But on Friday, Pollack was in goal and terrified. A comfortable lead had slipped away, a dominant offense had gone dormant and South Forsyth was set up for a shot with 12 seconds left down by two brimming with confidence.
“I’m scared. I’m worried,” Pollack said of the moment. “Even though some people don’t believe that the goalie is the main part, they really are in that moment. They are the MVP. They are who determines who wins and loses.”
Pollack delivered for West, deflecting the shot left, and the Lady Wolverines ran out the final seconds for a 12-10 victory against South in an Area 3-AAAAAA game at home.
Sarah Grady and McKinley Puckett led West (2-1, 1-1) with three goals each, Erika Cross and Channing Milford scored two goals apiece and Kelly Guthrie and Monica Martelli each added a goal. Madison Mueller had a game-high six goals for South (2-2, 0-1), while Camryn Klaus scored two and Emily Dreslinski and Jamie Porter each added a goal.
“When we had to step up there at the end we did,” West head coach John Thompson said. “Everybody kind of came together, played together as one. Incredibly proud of them. Under probably the hardest set of circumstances I think we’ve ever had here.”
The week had been defined by everything that was going wrong for West. There was the weather that spoiled practice time, and even when the Lady Wolverines got one in Thursday, the rain came down sideways and the team forgot its goalie gear. Easy to do, considering West had been missing senior starting goal keeper Kara Duclos to a concussion.
The end of the game was defined by how much longer everything could go wrong for the Lady Wolverines. After Guthrie scored to give West a 12-4 lead with 18:29 left in the game, the Lady Wolverines’ offense disappeared. South controlled possession and began to strike. Klaus scored with 17:30 left, Mueller scored 2:30 later, Porter a minute after.
“We’re just a slow-starting team,” South head coach Chip McIlvain said.
When Mueller scored again with 5:06 left, Thompson called a timeout to thwart South’s run, but it didn’t work. Mueller scored again. So did Klaus.
Pollack said she felt the burden of the near-collapse.
“I’m the one they’re scoring on,” Pollack said. “So who else’s fault would it be? Defense played awesome. It’s happened before where we’re up by 10 and we still win, but they came back significantly, and it’s definitely frustrating.”
Thompson had a different perspective.
“She has stepped in the last two games and played incredible,” he said.
Indeed, between a 14-8 victory against Kennesaw Mountain this past Wednesday and Friday’s win, Pollack went undefeated in her spot duty in goal. Thompson said Duclos is expected to return to practice Monday and be ready for West’s next game Friday at No. 4-ranked Northview, last season’s Class AAAAA-A runner-up. Pollack will go back to defender.
Normalcy will return for West, a welcome relief after a week – and a night – where it was disrupted.
“It’s just another step closer to the Forsyth Cup. It’s another step closer to winning region,” Pollack said. “Definitely things we can work on, but it’s a win. A win’s a win.”