The North Gwinnett Bulldogs (9-3-1) Tuesday handed Lambert boys varsity (12-1-0) their first loss of the season, 2-1. The match was decided on penalty kicks (4-3, North Gwinnett), after ending 1-1 following 80 minutes of regulation time and a 15-minute overtime.
The teams battled through a scoreless first half, but the ‘Horns were not without their chances. Striker Hayden Fontana almost converted a Bulldog giveaway in the first ten minutes of the match, but his shot went wide. With 13 minutes left in the half, the North Gwinnett keeper made a big save on Jay Patterson’s attempt to convert a corner kick from close range.
In the second half, the Bulldogs scored the first goal of the match on a header off a throw-in with 35 minutes remaining. The Longhorns then turned on the pressure, dominating play and pinning North Gwinnett in the defensive zone.
The Lambert efforts finally paid off when winger Thomas Powers slid a cross to Tyler Nadiak, who slammed the ball home to tie the match with 16 minutes remaining. The ‘Horns continued to force the play, putting extreme pressure on the Bulldog goal. Lambert barely missed the lead goal at least twice…on one shot just wide of the goal and another barely over the crossbar.
With the score tied at the end of regulation, the two teams played a 15-minute overtime, with no scoring.
That led to the penalty kick round in which the Bulldogs prevailed. Ironically, it was the North Gwinnett keeper who took the winning kick.
The Region 7A-5 champion Longhorns return to the pitch Friday night for a road match against region rival Forsyth Central. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.
RANKINGS NOTE: Going into Tuesday’s game, the Longhorns were ranked #1 in the state in the EUROSPORT rankings. Hillgrove High School of Cobb County was ranked #2. Both teams were undefeated. While the ‘Horns lost to North Gwinnett, Hillgrove (14-1-0) was also upset Tuesday, 3-2, by Class 5A Carrollton High School (11-4-1) , leaving both Lambert and Hillgrove with one loss each.