It wasn’t a typical scoring opportunity, the bouncing ball toward the near post that West Forsyth’s Grace Anne Green redirected backward and to the left toward teammates Karson Rosenberger. Rosenberger gathered and directed a shot on goal, but it was far from her purest hit.
“Did it hit off a defender, I think?” Rosenberger half-asked after the game. “I don’t even know. I saw the ball, and I turned and I hit it.”
The shot went in, though, and West held out for the 35 minutes remaining in the second half to beat South Forsyth 1-0 in the teams’ Region 5-7A girls soccer opener Friday.
An atypical goal seemed appropriate for Rosenberger, an atypical presence on the high school scene this year.
The senior defender is signed to play in college at Mercer and is just one of many girls players in Forsyth County set to play at the next level. But unlike every other Division I signee or commit in the county, Rosenberger is playing for her high school team this spring.
This high school season is the first in which the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, a new, more demanding level of club play, is an option for girls players. Three major area club programs – United Futbol Academy, Tophat and Concorde Fire – have DA teams, and players who join are prohibited from playing high school soccer. That has taken much of the top talent in the county, including three players who played for West last year, away from high school programs.
But Rosenberger is an exception. She left UFA last year to join Atlanta Fire, a team that plays in the Elite Clubs National League, and bonded with that team so well that she decided not to pursue playing at the DA level.
“I just grew to love my team so much,” Rosenberger said. “I thought about coming back (to UFA), but this team and my club team, I didn’t want to leave them. It’s just so much fun.”
Staying in the ECNL gives Rosenberger the chance to play one last high school season, alongside longtime teammates and friends like Green and fellow seniors Sophia Peach and Gillian Bay. And in a region that looks highly unpredictable given the amount of departures from the Wolverines, War Eagles and Lambert, Friday’s result was a solid step toward making Rosenberger’s final high school campaign a memorable one.
The win was the first of the season for West (1-2-1, 1-0). South fell to 1-3-1 and 0-1 in region play.
South Forsyth boys 2, West Forsyth 1
The Wolverines were the first on the scoreboard in the second game of the night, as senior Carlos Reyes fielded a long ball forward from West’s own half, skillfully navigated the last line of defense and curled a shot home to make it 1-0 with 27 minutes left in the first half.
The War Eagles countered quickly and forcefully, though. Chris Mendelson equalized roughly a minute after Reyes’ goal on a shot from close range on the left side of the box, and with just under two minutes left in the first half, Carter Mason got a foot on the ball amidst the scramble after a corner kick to put South ahead. Neither team could move the margin in the second half.
South moved to 4-1 and 1-0 in Region 5-7A with the win. West dropped to 0-6, 0-1.