FLOWERY BRANCH — West Forsyth’s girls soccer team took all the drama out of its top 10 matchup against Class AAA’s fifth-ranked Flowery Branch (8-5, 5-2 Area 7-AAA) early on Friday in South Hall. There was no last-minute suspense and no late goal to tip the balance of the outcome. It was just a well-played game on both ends by the No. 9-ranked Lady Wolverines (8-1, 4-1) as they cruised to a 3-1 victory.
"This was a very big win for us," West Forsyth coach Peter Valentino said. "Flowery Branch is an extremely strong program and always plays at a high level."
The win for the Lady Wolverines certainly has an impact on the area standings. The loss leaves No. 3-ranked North Hall ahead in the race to win the area and No. 1 seed for the playoffs, and everyone else is battling to earn the coveted No. 2 spot to also start the playoffs at home. The Lady Falcons have a chance to gain some ground when they play host to North Hall on Tuesday. Valentino said he expects a tight battle for playoff spots with North Hall, West Forsyth, Flowery Branch, Creekview and White County all fully in the mix.
"There’s a lot of solid teams in this area," added Flowery Branch coach Katie Scali.
Of course, nothing was determined by West Forsyth’s win, but it did put the Lady Wolverines firmly in that second spot in the area standings. But the win was special for West Forsyth with its first in school history against the Lady Falcons. Last year, Flowery Branch dominated in a 2-0 decision.
West Forsyth returned the favor this season jumping to a quick 2-0 lead in the first eight minutes of the game. The Lady Wolverines provided the final goal early in the second half with a shot off the right foot of Kacey McInerney.
McInerney scored the game’s first goal in just the second minute of play off a corner kick, then six minutes later Aly Laughlin scored the Lady Wolverines’ second goal on a wide-open shot from 25 yards out.
Those three goals proved more than enough to ensure victory for West Forsyth with a solid defensive effort, including two excellent second half saves by goalie Jackie Anderson. Still, Flowery Branch managed to keep the ball on its side of the field the majority of the second half.
"West Forsyth gave us a hard game," Scali said.
Making things more difficult for the Lady Falcons was the absence of two starters. Freshman defender Morgan Glenn went down with a concussion earlier this week against Creekview and junior forward Lindsay Porter has been out of action since sustaining an injury against Johnson.
Cassidy Elrod provided Flowery Branch’s only score with a shot that hit off the left post and ended up in the back of the net in the 25th minute.
Scali describes this as the toughest stretch of the season with games against Creekview, West Forsyth and North Hall all sandwiched together.
Flowery Branch plays host to North Hall at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday. West Forsyth visits White County at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in Cleveland.
Flowery Branch boys 1, West Forsyth 0
Some hustle and alert play by Flowery Branch’s Memo Rodriguez proved the difference in its win on Friday night at Falcons Field. The Falcons senior chased down a lose ball down the West Forsyth side of the field, kicked the ball back to Christian Manzo for the game’s only goal nearing the end of the first half.
"We’re a very young team but really growing up and steadily improving throughout the season," Flowery Branch coach Jeremy Purdy said. "Our forwards and midfielders are really working well together."
The Falcons’ best scoring opportunity in the second half was a well-played diving header by Philip Abrahamsen that sailed just wide of the net.
In the second half, goalies on both sides ensured their would be no goals allowed. West Forsyth goalie Zach Liles had three saves to prevent scores in the second half.
Flowery Branch goalie Zach Clark also played well with a nice save in the 65th minute and then two more in the final minute to preserve the win.
Flowery Branch (7-5-1, 4-3 Area 7-AAA) plays host to North Hall at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Falcons Field. West Forsyth (6-5, 4-2) visits White County on Tuesday in Cleveland.