McIntosh defeats Lambert in comeback

Saturday’s calendar for McIntosh High School included the prom, but before they could don their tuxedos and patent-leather shoes, the Peachtree City school’s soccer team had some dancing to do in cleats.

They trailed for nearly 50 minutes and found the scoring opportunities hard to come by in their Class AAAA quarterfinal at Lambert, but scored twice in the final 11 minutes to advance to the semifinals with a 2-1 win, keeping alive their hopes of a fourth state title.

“We stole one today,” said McIntosh coach Bunky Colvin, whose club lost in the state finals each of the past two years. “They truly deserved to be No. 1. They’re the best team we’ve played this year.”

The game turned in the 70th minute. Until that point, Lambert appeared headed for its 14th shutout and a semifinal berth in its second year of varsity play.

Trailing 1-0, the Chiefs (16-4-1) capitalized on a foul in the goalie box by Lambert keeper Dalton Walsh. Walsh was assessed a yellow card for pushing off on a corner kick and came out of the game. The Chiefs were awarded a penalty kick, which Aaron Hartzog kicked past Lambert backup goalie Michael Zambetti for the equalizer.

Lambert’s Michael Williams also was given a yellow card in the sequence.

McIntosh senior Ryan Navarre scored the winning goal in the 76th minute, taking the rebound from a corner kick and pushing it past Zambetti.

“I’ve been collecting the trash in there all year,” Navarre said. “When you get in these types of situations, it’s not always the skill that makes the difference. It’s the heart. It’s will. Today we wanted it more than they did.”

McIntosh keeper Josh Slepicka preserved the win with two saves in the final minute, one on a free kick by Lambert’s Dale Ashford that was redirected by Kris Reaves.

“It kind of came over the top, and I just came off the post,” Slepicka said. “I just had to lay out to get to it.”

He turned away Lambert’s last chance on a corner kick that was deflected into the box. Slepicka leaped into a mass of players and punched that one away with 45 seconds left.

Lambert’s Iain Smith had a handful of sideline runs to attack the goal and slipped through to score an unassisted goal in the 21st minute, working his way through the left side of the 18-yard box and beating Slepicka with a shot to the lower right corner.