Dawson County fought to the bitter end against Jefferson on May 1 as the last shot of the game slid left with 12 seconds remaining, but an hour-long rain delay and wet field conditions conspired to put an end to the Lady Tigers season in round two of the 2019 GHSA state playoffs.
“When the field is wet, the ball bounces and skips differently,” Head Coach Chess Hamby said. “We have gotten some good balls into the corner — they’ve just had too much heat on them.”
The 2-0 final score ended a streak that saw the Lady Tigers win 13-of-14 games (a tie with Eastside being the fourteenth game), go undefeated in regional play to capture the 7-AAA title and make their second appearance in the Sweet Sixteen round of the state playoffs.
The Lady Tigers worked their way into the second round with their fourth shut out in a row as they blanked the Sonoraville Phoenix in round one, while the Lady Dragons fought tooth and nail with the Pace Academy to win their first-round games in a 7-6 penalty kick battle.
The only two goals of the game came late in the first-half as Jefferson’s Abbey Eison demonstrated her blazing speed to get behind the defenders and challenge Dawson County’s Fallan Lacey one on one. In the first attack, it appeared that Lacey had the block, but the ball took a bad bounce to find the back corner, and in the second attack, Eison slid the ball just past her outstretched hands as she dove for the block.
“Jefferson came in with a chip on their shoulder and just out worked us. They played with a lot of passion and emotion and we weren't able to match it,” Hamby said. “They made the shots they had to, and we didn’t. Their defense did a great job of limiting our opportunities and shots.”
Led by seniors Ruthie Pittman and Emily DeMoss, the Lady Tigers continued to drive deep into the Jefferson side of the field, but the crossing shots never quite connected, and the passes just barely missed as the ball seemed to always leave the foot at just the wrong angle as the clock continued to grind towards zeros.
“We had some decent opportunities early that we didn't take advantage of and that kind of set the tone for the game,” Hamby said. “I am proud of our girls, though. We got behind early, but they battled to the end.”
The loss marked the final game as a Lady Tiger for the five graduating seniors: Lacey, Pittman, Demoss, Mackenzie Kimbarl and Rachel Rajczak, and Coach Hamby acknowledged that the loss would have an impact on next year’s team.
“I'm still very proud of these girls and all that they have accomplished,” Hamby said. “This senior group won two region championships and 55 games during their four years. I wish them the best of luck moving forward and our program is really going to miss them.”
Dawson County finished the regular season with an overall record of 13-2-1, and a regional record of 5-0.