The Dawson County boys soccer team traveled to Jekyll Island last weekend to play in the Tournament of Champions event.
The Tigers came away with a 2-1 record after beating Lee County, 2-0 and Coffee County, 2-0, before losing the last game on Saturday to Houston, Tenn., by a 1-0 score.
Dawson is currently 5-4 overall on the season.
"This weekend I knew we were going to see some really tough teams and man were they. We have not seen this kind of talent since Westminster in last year's state playoffs. We knew these teams would be big and physical," said head coach Jed Lacey.
Against Lee County (3-5) on March 15, the game was a defensive battle for the first 40 minutes. Both teams headed to the locker room at halftime tied at zero.
Tiger Sam Wentworth finally got Dawson on the scoreboard with 33:08 to play in the second half.
Forward Josh Lund executed a beautiful pass to Wentworth who deposited the ball into the back of the net.
Lacey's team added another goal with 25:17 to play.
Lund, a junior, blasted the ball past the goalie to give Dawson a 2-0 lead.
The Tigers played good defense the rest of the game to hold onto the win.
On Friday, the Tigers matched up with a very physical team in Coffee County (4-6).
Last year the Trojans made it to the Elite Eight before losing to Lassiter High School.
The Tigers scored first with 9:02 left in the first half on a free kick off the foot of Talal Hamodi.
It was Hamodi's first goal this season.
Around the 7 minute mark, disaster struck.
The Tigers lost Josh Lund and Cody Hall to injury.
"This just keeps happening. We just got over most of our starters being out from earlier injuries and then bam, here we go again. Our kids just play so hard and do not back down that we are always body to body hitting and it makes us much more likely to get injured, but that is our style of play," Lacey said. "It looks like we will be without Cody and Josh for a while."
Sal Mendoza, freshman, put the icing on the cake with a goal with just 26 minutes remaining on an assist from Chris Bywaletz.
Once again, Dawson's defense held out to post their second shutout of the tournament.
"After the injuries we had to go deep into our bench to find players to step up and fill in for us. Multiple players stepped up and the most noticeable was freshman Josh Sage. Josh was everywhere in the middle shutting down Coffee's attack," Lacey said.
Saturday morning's game was with perennial soccer power Houston High School from Germantown, Tenn.
Last season Houston was 17-3.
Houston has won five state championships, two in the last three years.
The team has also won two national championships, according to Lacey.
"Playing national power, two-time national champion Houston High out of Tennessee was a thrill. They controlled a lot of the game and we played a bend but don't break game plan and it almost worked. I felt an off sides that was not called lost the game for us, but it was our fault for not playing to the whistle," Lacey said.
Playing shorthanded, the Tigers almost pulled off an upset.
"We had so many lineup changes, trying to find a combination that would work. We were playing in new positions and teaching them on the run," Lacey said.
Houston scored its lone goal with 19 minutes left in the first half.
This will be a trying week for Dawson County.
On Wednesday, the team will travel to Rabun County (3-4) for a Region 8-AA matchup with the Wildcats.
On Friday the Tigers will play host to state-ranked East Hall at Tiger Stadium.
Both games will begin at 7 p.m.