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Soccer: West girls best Central in offensive shootout, gains control of region's second seed
West Forsyth's Emma Armstrong puts a shot in the net during the Wolverines' game against Forsyth Central on March 5, 2019 at West Forsyth High School. - photo by Ian Frazer

Last week, West Forsyth’s girls soccer team got a good idea of where they wanted to be, albeit in a painful way.

In a lopsided 5-0 loss to Lambert, the Wolverines fell victim to the skilled players the Longhorns boasted, including ones that had helped them to their 2017 state championship. It was bitter medicine, but heading into Tuesday’s matchup with Central, it may have been what West needed.

“Playing those guys, it showed us the speed we've got to play at,” West girls coach Jason Galt said. “They play extremely fast, and for us to play at that level, we've got to play at that kind of speed.”

And against the Bulldogs, they needed it. Despite Central’s Callie Fagan getting a hat trick, West did enough offensively to prevail in what was high-scoring game, taking a 5-3 victory. The win puts the Wolverines in a controlling position for the No. 2 seed out of Region 5-7A.

West didn’t take long to get on the board, with Ava Martin scoring from the right side of Central’s goal after Bulldogs goalkeeper Allie Strunk couldn’t corral the ball. Just three minutes in, West had a 1-0 advantage. With 24 minutes left in the first, Courtney Jebavy floated the ball over Strunk’s head from 25 yards out with the help of the wind, making it 2-0.

“Ava got the ball and laid it off to me,” Jebavy said. “I just hit it because I noticed that the keeper was (out of position). So I just hit it over her hands.”

Forsyth Central's Carson Cloud and West Forsyth's Savannah Booker compete for a header during the teams' game on March 5, 2019 at West Forsyth High School. - photo by Ian Frazer
Fagan started a combined three-minute scoring barrage with 14:43 left in the half, going right through West’s defense for a score. West’s Emma Armstrong followed that up by scoring off a corner kick just over two minutes later, and 35 seconds after that, Fagan scored in front of the goal to make it 3-2 with 11:50 left in the first. 

After that hectic stretch subsided, Martin added her second goal of the evening with a shot from the right side with 4:02 left, and West held a 4-2 lead at the break. 

“I guess that's kind of what people want to see,” Galt said. “As a coach, it's nerve-wracking. It's nice when you're scoring a bunch of goals. Early on it was back and forth and it was a tough match.”

Armstrong scored her second goal with 23:47 to play, and while both teams played better defense in the second half, the Wolverines still couldn’t stop Fagan, who converted her third goal on a one-on-one chance down the left side with 18:28 left.

“They've got a really good player,” Galt said. “She is the real deal. You can say 'Watch her,' you can say 'Be aware of her,' but a player like that's going to make plays.”

West has a rematch with Lambert scheduled for next week. Regardless of the result of that game, they know that if they can play like they did offensively on Tuesday for the rest of the year, they'll be in good shape.

“We had to win this game,” Galt said. “If we can get through every region game and put ourselves in a situation to be that second seed, we like our opportunity.”

The Wolverines improved to 5-3-1 and 3-1 in Region 5-7A with the win, while Central fell to 5-3-0, 2-2.

West Forsyth's Nick Fresquez and Forsyth Central's David Nunez compete for a ball during the teams' game on March 5, 2019 at West Forsyth High School. - photo by Ian Frazer
Forsyth Central boys 1, West Forsyth 0

In what was a stark contrast to the girls game, the boys weren't able to take advantage of many of their scoring opportunities. Central's Anthony Grasso accounted for the game's only goal with 1:20 left until the half.

West goalkeeper Jonathan Yokel gave his team a chance late with a leaping save with 26:43 left, but the Wolverines couldn't put a ball in the net to tie it up.

Central improved to 6-2-0, 3-1 win the win, while West fell to 0-6-2, 0-4.