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Dawson soccer girls reach 'Elite Eight'
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The Lady Tigers took a record-breaking season to an even higher level last week with a hard-fought victory to reach the State Playoff Elite Eight.

In a tasty matchup of State Top-10 ranked teams, the Dawson County defense showed once again that it is second to none with its school record 15th shutout of the season over Vidalia High School.

But 10th-ranked Vidalia wouldnt go without a fight.

Despite first-half pressure, 3rd-ranked Dawson County couldnt peel away the layers of the Indians defense as both squads looked to regroup at halftime after a scoreless tie.

Following an equally-frustrating beginning to the second half, Dawson County broke through.

Some of her teammates may have scored more goals this season, but few were as important to the Lady Tigers as freshman Taylor Bennetts strike with just 18 minutes remaining in this game.

Freshman forward Anela Melton served up an outside pass and Bennett accelerated past the defender and put it in the net for her sixth goal of the season.

Dawson County head coach Jed Lacey hopes to see more clutch play from Bennett in the coming years.

She is only a ninth grader, but she is a special player and will be a force in high school, said Lacey. She is the real deal.

Bennetts goal was all the Lady Tigers needed.

The momentum clearly swung in Dawson Countys favor as the team continued to attack the Indians goal, but couldnt add any insurance.

The 1-0 victory was huge for Dawson County soccer and DCHS, Lacey said. We have now made our mark in the state in soccer and we are not going back.

The coach recognized the work and sacrifices of his assistant coaches and players, who put in the effort to raise the team to a high level in a short amount of time.

These girls are trailblazers, Lacey said. They are the ones that took this program and kicked the door in and now we will be looked at with respect as a legit soccer town.

Although Dawson County (17-3) saw their season come to a close with a 7-0 loss to No. 2 Greater Atlanta Christian School in the Quarterfinals, the coach recognizes the teams bright future.

We are a Top-5 team in the state and we will only get better if we keep working to get better and strive to reach the top, he said. That day is coming and it is not that far away.