Tiger freshman Jose Miranda scored the biggest goal of his young varsity soccer career last Tuesday against Riverside Military Academy.
Miranda’s lone goal, his 14th of the season, was enough to propel Dawson County into the state A/AA playoffs.
It was an emotionally charged game, as both teams knew what was at stake. A loss sends one team home, while the other advances to the state tournament.
Miranda’s goal just three minutes into the second half was all Head Coach Jed Lacey’s team needed to win the 1-0 affair.
Miranda hit a shot from 35-yards out that beat the Riverside goalie.
“When that goal went in it gave us a lift that would give us the energy and determination to get the job done,” said Lacey.
The Tigers must deal with an adverse situation with the loss of leading goal scorer, Mauricio Escobar.
Escobar received a red card early in the game after a confrontation with the Riverside goalie. Because of the red card Escobar will miss the first two games of the state playoffs.
The Tigers had to play with only 10 men for the remainder of the contest.
“It is what it is. We had to play the rest of the game with only 10 players. We will miss him during the playoffs,” said Lacey.
Escobar leads the team with 17 goals on the season.
Tiger goalie Sam Edwards played an outstanding game for the Tigers.
Edwards was bombarded with shots during the last three minutes as Riverside frantically tried to score.
“Sam is so quick he makes saves you think there is no way he will get to, but he does. We would not be here without Sam,” Lacey said.
“Our defense played great with Ethan Brown, Eian Perry, Cody Hall, Gunnar Armstrong, and our holding mid Cody McGinnis keeping Riverside to 21 shots on goal for the whole game,” Lacey said of his defense.
“Alex (Cote) and his leadership skills are great. He has a work ethic bar none. Alex is so unselfish and let’s everybody get all the credit. It will be hard to replace him next season,” Lacey said of the senior.
Cote leads the team with 24 assists.
“We did it. We worked so hard for this. After losing 11 seniors from last year’s team and having only two seniors returning, it looked like a major rebuilding year. The kids just refused to quit.
“We believed we could get to state and we did. I am so proud of this team going through all the adversities we had to... and to keep winning was a testament to the type of heart and passion these kids are made of,” Lacey added.
The team will travel to play Area 16 champion Athens Academy this Thursday, April 29.
Athens Academy defeated Hebron Christian Academy in their region semi-finals to win the championship. The Spartans come into the contest with an 11-5-1 record.
Athens Academy will be a tough team defensively. The Spartans have not allowed a goal in their last four matches and have only allowed 19 goals all season.
Last season, Head Coach Stefan Billmayer’s team reached the second round before being eliminated by Westminster 2-0.
Kick-off for the state playoff game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at Athens Academy.