The Dawson County boys’ and girls’ soccer teams began their seasons with challenging matches against Gordon Central on Tuesday, Jan. 25. Both teams are looking to bounce back from the struggles of last season and had the first taste of competition in frigid conditions.
While the girls’ team held the Lady Warriors to a 1-1 draw, the boys’ team fell behind early and lost their match 4-1.
In the opening match, the Lady Tigers set out aggressively, controlling possession and pressing Gordon Central deep into their own half. For head coach Chess Hamby, this approach showed a positive sign of the team’s overall fitness.
“I’m super proud of their condition compared to last year,” Hamby said. “We really put an emphasis on that in preseason.”
After knocking on the door early, the Lady Tigers found a goal through a breakaway by freshman forward Melodie Martin just 14 minutes into the match. She took her chance well after finding space, giving the ball a swift kick before it hit the left goalpost and back into the net.
The defense played well during the first half, but a brief lapse early in the second half allowed the visitors to equalize. An offensive possession and a missed shot on goal by the Lady Tigers quickly turned into a counterattack by Gordon Central, who efficiently passed the ball down the pitch and found a forward player to score a goal.
While the Lady Tigers were not able to find a winning goal, co-captain Kenna LeBaron had constructive feedback for her team in the 1-1 draw.
“Communication is a big thing…realizing everyone is open and there for you, I think, makes a big change,” LeBaron said. “Getting those first touches better, getting better passes, and making those runs early on so we’re not missing them later on in the game [are important].”
The boys’ team faced a fast-paced Gordon Central side that came off a 16-2 season last spring and made the semi-finals of the AA state playoffs.
Though the opening 10 minutes of the first half looked competitive from both sides, the Warriors soon increased pressure on the Tigers’ back line. Gordon Central scored the opening goal after 13 minutes with some controversy, as Dawson County accused the visitors of handball to no avail.
Two additional goals in the next 10 minutes would shock the Tigers and force the team to regroup tactically.
“I felt like defense wasn’t marking the greatest at the beginning [but] we made some adjustments at halftime,” head coach Patrick Muenchen said. “Gio, our goalie, did a great job to save several hot shots.”
The efforts from Gio Hernandez, Saul Ruiz and Hector Tenerio-Camacho helped the Tigers stay in the match after those three goals by Gordon Central. Just two minutes after the third goal, Ruiz scored to give the Tigers some hope with 15 minutes left to play in the first half.
Despite that brief momentum, Dawson County was not able to find the net for the remainder of the first half.
Gordon County scored again early in the second half to put the game firmly out of reach, with further efforts by the Tigers stymied by lack of possession.
For the future, Muenchen is looking at different ways he can create the most tactically sound version and shape of his team.
“I usually start with a strong defense, but there’s a couple guys I could move to midfield to help create more opportunities,” Muenchen said. “We’ve got to work a little harder.”
Next up, the boys’ and girls’ soccer teams travel to Carnesville to take on Franklin County on Friday, Jan. 28.