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SOCCER: These players have led the Lady Tigers to an undefeated start
Sophomore Melodie Martin takes the ball up the pitch during the game against East Forsyth earlier this season. Martin is the joint-top scorer for the Lady Tigers with 5 goals. - photo by Rio White

One of many cliches used in the sports world to describe contrasting circumstances is “night and day.” 

To use that term to describe the 2023 Dawson County girls soccer team’s fortunes compared to last year would be an understatement.

Not for a lack of trying, the 2022 Lady Tigers had just four wins and 11 goals scored over 15 matches.

But this season, the team has already knocked in 18 goals in just five games — all of which they have won.

So what has led to this turnaround?

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Despite losing senior captain Kenna LeBaron from last year’s squad, the Lady Tigers have found success this season through a collective — and youthful — approach.

15 of the team’s goals so far this year have come from three players — freshmen forwards Harper Dussouy and Hayden Hand, along with returning sophomore striker Melodie Martin.

All three have been supported by forwards Ryleigh Adamson and Izzy Sheer, as well as a midfield defined by its depth. 

While senior Daisy Vargas Sanchez and sophomore Elena Nelson typically control the central midfield, many others have stepped up to provide contributions.

All of that additional support may be the most prominent contrast to last season — when the team had far fewer options from the bench.

Younger players such as Madeline Clifford and Bryton Hubbard have stepped up, while more experienced players such as Abby Felkai and Keyli Velasquez have been important as well.

Perhaps the team’s biggest challenge at the beginning of this season was finding the right defensive combination. 

But much like the rest of the team, some of the youngest players have been unafraid to meet the challenge of varsity soccer.

Freshman Corbi Hicks made her presence known from the start — helping keep a solid Cartersville team at bay for a long time during the scrimmage game. 

Hicks, along with junior Charlotte Fox and fellow freshman Cayden Townley, have given head coach Chess Hamby strong options at the back. 

Those players are complemented by usual full-backs Michelle Uribe Castro and Addison Autrey.

Through the team’s efforts, the Lady Tigers have forged an identity both in their ability to win games and in their character as an aggressive, high-energy bunch.

Dawson’s most recent game at Union County was rescheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 22, with the team’s senior night happening on Friday, Feb. 24, against Gordon Central.