When Flowery Branch freshman Maggie Wadsworth clanged her first shot of Tuesday night’s game against Marist off the post, she had a feeling she was going to have a good game, and she was right.
Wadsworth finished the contest with a hat trick and an assist as the No. 5 Lady Falcons (9-3, 4-0 Region 7-4A) claimed a comfortable 4-1 win over the No. 2 Lady War Eagles at home.
“She’s a great player, great addition,” Flowery Branch coach Anel Lilic said of Wadsworth. “She’s always dangerous.”
Wadsworth flashed that danger just 10 minutes into the game when her shot from left to right beat the diving Marist goalkeeper but bounced back off the post. Despite the missed opportunity, the Flowery Branch offense kept the pressure up, and on the Lady Falcons’ very next possession, Wadsworth crossed the ball in to Mollie Langner for a tap-in goal.
Flowery Branch kept the energy high, even after going up by a goal, keeping the ball on Marist’s side of the field for much of the opening half.
“I think the girls were a little bit nervous to start with, but we talked about using that nervousness and fear to do positive things,” Lilic said. “I think tactically we just controlled what they were doing, so we were able to stay in their half for a bit longer.”
Wadsworth got her first goal of the game on a breakaway in the 23rd minute. After dribbling past a couple of Marist defenders, she slid a shot past the keeper to extend the Lady Falcons’ lead.
Marist’s Annika Bryant managed to narrow the deficit to one goal near the end of the first half off the assist from Katie Scarborough, but Wadsworth and the Flowery Branch attack were just getting started.
Wadsworth scored for the second time little more than 10 minutes into the second half after receiving a feed from Langner at the top of the box that weaved through a Marist defender’s legs.
She completed the hat trick mere minutes later.
Wadsworth chased down an errant Marist pass back to the goalkeeper, and blocked an attempted clearance, coming away in possession of the ball with nothing between her and the net for an easy score.
“I always hear people telling me to keep going and don’t stop,” she said. “Sometimes, I will stop and I know I should have kept going. So that time I knew I wasn’t going to stop, and it worked out for me.”
The win was the fifth straight for a Flowery Branch team that both Lilic and Wadsworth believe is peaking at the right time. It also put the team in the driver’s seat for winning Region 7-4A.
The Lady Falcons are the last remaining team of the group to be undefeated in region play.
“I’m super excited to see what else we can do,” Wadsworth said. “This was for sure one of the best games that we’ve played this season.”
MARIST BOYS 2, FLOWERY BRANCH 0: The two teams played to a 0-0 draw after 40 minutes, but Marist’s Brendan Murphy put the War Eagles on top with a penalty kick less than 30 seconds into the second half. Javi Farach made it 2-0 later in the half, knocking in a shot off a deflection inside the box.
The Falcons (5-7, 2-2 Region 7-4A) had a couple of chances late but could not convert any of them into goals.