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Sandoval brace leads boys soccer over Lumpkin, girls fall to clinical opponent
Matthew Nozick (front) and Jose Sandoval (back) await a throw-in during the match against Lumpkin County. Nozick scored the opening goal while Sandoval would score twice in the victory. - photo by Rio White

The Dawson County High School boys and girls soccer teams faced Lumpkin County on Friday, March 4, with the girls team opening with a 5-0 loss before the boys won 4-2.

Senior forward Jose Sandoval led the offensive charge for the Tigers, scoring twice and placing several shots on goal. His sustained pressure in the final third would prove to be especially important in the second half as he helped wear out the opposing defense.

“We tried a different formation where we wanted to go with a more aggressive four in the middle,” head coach Patrick Muenchen said. “The [boys] have done a good job of communicating.”

The first half began with a quick goal by senior forward Matthew Nozick, who burst through on a diagonal run and scored just four minutes into the match. 

Lumpkin would respond six minutes later on a counterattack, equalizing and stalling the early offensive momentum by Dawson.

The next 25 minutes would see both teams creating scoring chances but coming up short, until Sandoval took a deft touch from a lobbed pass and dribbled past the oncoming goalkeeper to restore the Tigers’ lead on 36 minutes.

Just before halftime, Lumpkin found another equalizer by drawing a foul in the penalty box and slotting home the resulting penalty kick. 

Defensively, the Tigers made adjustments in the second half to retain more possession. This approach would help chip away at the Lumpkin defense until Sandoval eventually scored the team’s third goal on 65 minutes.

With just six minutes remaining in the match, senior Erick Sanchez ensured victory with a curling shot into the top right corner of the net.

The win against Lumpkin gave Dawson their fourth win of the season and much-needed momentum after having lost two of their previous three matches.

On the girls side, the Lady Tigers faced the defending region champions and made a good account of themselves for most of the first half.

The defensive back line of senior Kenna LeBaron, sophomore Charlotte Fox and sophomore Addison Autrey helped hold their opponent scoreless for the opening 37 minutes of the match.

Charlotte Fox runs toward the ball during the game against Lumpkin County. Her first-half defensive effort helped the Lady Tigers stay in the match. - photo by Rio White

Junior goalkeeper Emma Faircloth also made key saves during the first half to keep Dawson from slipping behind early.

At that point just before halftime, the Lady Tigers had a corner kick and an opportunity to score first. After Dawson was unable to convert the chance, Lumpkin went on a rapid counterattack and scored. 

That first strike gave the visitors all the momentum they needed for the rest of the match, as they scored four more times to come away with their ninth win of the season.

“That first goal was completely on me…I got too aggressive trying to score,” head coach Chess Hamby said. “In the second half, we all made small mistakes that were exposed and that’s what good teams [like Lumpkin] do.”

Dawson now has an even record for the season of three wins, three draws and three losses. 

Next up, the Dawson County soccer teams will face East Forsyth at home on Tuesday, March 8.