This past fall, West Forsyth won the first-ever GHSA girls flag football state championship.
After Friday night’s 1-0 victory over Lambert in the Class 7A girls soccer state championship, the Wolverines can another banner to the rafters.
“It feels more of a relief than I thought it would,” West head coach Jason Galt said. “A lot of times as coaches, I find that we hate losing more than we love winning. You put all your time and effort into it. You know you have the talent to do something special and finally that stress is just lifted.”
Both teams played strong, competitive defense throughout the entire game, and the score was locked at zero leading into the second half. However, just two minutes into resuming play, Sarah Harrell received a pass from Tori DellaPeruta headed down the far side out-of-bounds line.
“I saw it and I knew what we had been working on,” Harrell said. “Once my defender squared up, I beat her down the line and had all eyes on the goal. I saw Tori going up and left it for her.”
DellaPeruta touched the pass from Harrell and punched it into the back of the net for the only goal of the game and DellaPeruta’s 54th of the season.
“It’s overwhelming but so amazing,” DellaPeruta said. "To reach your goal and also win a state championship has to be the best feeling to experience in high school.”
Lambert went into the championship game undefeated on the season and had won the regular-season matchup against West Forsyth in penalty kicks. This time around, Lambert had several key contributors fall out with injuries throughout the game.
“Super proud of the effort we gave,” Lambert head coach Scott Luthart said. “We knew with West Forsyth’s talent, we were going to have to be near perfect. We had some disorganization but I thought our game plan was really good. I’m disappointed for them, but I’m not disappointed in them.”
Galt said he had purposely scheduled the Wolverines to have an incredibly tough non-region schedule because he wanted his team to be “battle tested” for situations such as a state championship. The Wolverines lost only one other game in the regular season to Westminster, the eventual Class 3A state champions.
“I don’t think these girls realize how good they really are,” Galt said. “Sometimes we can be timid, but we just needed to understand we can play. I truly believe if we hadn’t played those games, we wouldn’t have won and went on this run.”
It was a night full of high school careers ending. Seventeen seniors played their finale in the championship, with the Wolverines graduating 10 seniors and the Longhorns seven.
Luthart coached his last game as the Longhorns’ head coach after announcing earlier this year his plans to transition into an administrative role.
DellaPeruta also played her last game as a Wolverine. Though she is a junior, she will graduate in December and become an early enrollee at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
However, Galt does not expect for West Forsyth to lose a step when it comes to getting back to the state championship game.
“This is the beginning of hopefully a dynasty,” he said. “The kind of talent we have at West Forsyth ... and it’s not just soccer. As a coach, I’m at the right place at the right time. And they’ve bought into me."