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Lady Tigers advance to Sweet 16 with shut-out win over Phoenix
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Team captain Rachel Rajczak battles for possession of the ball versus the Sonoraville Phoenix on April 23 in round one of the GHSA state tournament. - Photo by Bob Christian

On the strength of back-to-back first-half goals from senior and team captain Rachel Rajczak, the Lady Tigers joined the sweet 16 of the GHSA state tournament on April 23 with a 7-0 victory over the Sonoraville Phoenix.

The Lady Tigers maintained consistent pressure on the Phoenix goalie as the frontline routinely outran and out maneuvered the opposing defense with Ruthie Pittman breaking free in the first minutes of the game to open the scoring.

On the other end of the field, Dawson County’s defense, led by senior MacKenzie Kimbarl, kept the front of the net clear for goalkeeper Fallan Lacey for most of the game. On the rare occasion that a Sonoraville forward broke through, Lacey was up to the task and a Lady Tiger defender was immediately on hand to clear the ball, denying the Phoenix any second shot opportunities.

The last five minutes of the second half proved to be the game’s most critical stretch that started with deep penetration by the Phoenix into the Dawson County half of the field. Lacey deflected the ensuing shot, but the deflection crossed the front of the wide-open net and only a last second clear from junior Kinsey Beaty preserved the Lady Tiger’s shut-out.

The ensuing transition led to the first of Rajczak’s two goals as she won the ball from a challenging defender and completely fooled the opposing keeper with a touch shot to the back-right corner of the net to extend the Dawson County lead to 3-0.

In almost déjà vu like fashion, Sonoraville responded with another deep attack that resulted in a dangerous shot on net, this time the goal saving clear would be credited to Kimbarl, and Rajczak broke free for a second time in less than a minute to push another shot into the Phoenix goal.

“(Rajczak) is such a complete player and does so much for our team,” Head Coach Chess Hamby said. “She has a strong shot, but she also creates opportunities for the other girls with her great crosses.  She is a special player for sure.”

That crossing shot was on full display as the Lady Tigers added three more points in the second half, with Racjzak providing the assist on all three, to close out the game by the final score of 7-0.

Dawson County entered the tournament as the No. 1 seed from region 7-AAA and will host the second- round game on May 1 when the team will face Jefferson High School (No. 2, region 8), who outlasted Pace Academy (No. 3, region 5) 7-6 in their first- round battle also on April 23.