No soccer team truly wants to decide a game with penalty kicks. It takes the nuances, quirks and advantages built up over the course of a match and nullifies them in favor of what’s basically a crapshoot.
And in the West Forsyth girls team’s game against Lambert on Friday, the Wolverines’ tortured recent history against the Longhorns made them especially interested to get it finished sans shootout. That’s what made Karson Rosenberger’s goal with four minutes remaining in extra time, which gave West a 1-0 win, feel so sweet.
“It feels amazing, really amazing,” Rosenberger said as she nursed a sore neck, an aftereffect of a collision with Lambert’s Lauren Hong late in regulation. “I don’t really have another word to describe it.”
Rosenberger said she wasn’t concussed – “I’ve had a few of those; it doesn’t feel like that,” she said – but she stayed flat on the ground for a few minutes after her collision with Hong. Once extra time started, though, the Mercer signee was thrown up front, into the Wolverines’ attack.
“After the first five, we said, ‘We have five minutes: (Give it) everything you have,’” West head coach Kim Spence said.
The first period of extra time passed without incident. Early in the second, though, the Wolverines pushed a ball forward, and Isa Aguilar gave chase, creating a mob of bodies in front of the goal. Lambert goalkeeper Maddy Schulte was among them, and when Rosenberger got a foot to the loose ball, she had a largely open net to shoot on.
West had controlled most of the game’s possession to that point and had multiple chances forward, lacking only the finishing touch. The Wolverines figured that if they kept that control, a breakthrough would come soon enough.
A penalty shootout could have dredged up a raft of unhappy memories for the Wolverines. Both of their region matchups in 2017 against the Longhorns, the eventual Class 7A state champion, ended scoreless in regulation, and Lambert twice won on penalties. Those results played a role in West entering the state playoffs as a No. 4 seed, and they lost in the first round.
The win on Friday also broke a narrative extending well before 2017: It was the West girls’ first win over Lambert in program history. The Wolverines moved to 2-4-1, 2-1 in Region 5-7A with the win. Lambert fell to 3-2-1, 2-1.
Lambert boys 5, West Forsyth 0
The boys game opened up with each side exchanging moves in possession, but a flurry of goals by the Longhorns turned the result quickly in their favor. Trey Kirksey opened the scoring 10 minutes into the first half, putting a low shot past the charge of goalkeeper Jonathan Yockel, and three minutes after that, Hayden Fontana chipped a high, arcing shot over Yockel from long range. Nick Alliston finished the first-half scoring with a strong strike from the left side of the box.
Thomas Powers and Tyler Nadiak added goals in the second half for the Longhorns, who moved to 5-1-1, 3-0 Region 5-7A with the win. West dropped to 0-8, 0-3.