After a disappointing loss to Flowery Branch last week, the Dawson County varsity boys soccer team rebounded with two wins this week. A region-opening 1-0 win against Union County on Feb. 27 and a 2-1 win over West Hall on March 2 improves Dawson County’s record to 3-2 on the season.
“(I'm) very pleased with the guys,” Head Coach Derek Waters said. “Just the mindset and the attitude change the guys have had as far as really wanting to buy in and come together stronger as a team and as a unit.”
Last week’s game against Flowery Branch saw the Tigers concede a goal less than a minute into the game. Dawson County was on the opposite end of that spectrum Friday when forward Micheal Velasquez buried a goal into the far corner of the net just over three minutes into the contest.
“That Flowery Branch game, giving up that goal so early kind of deflated everything,” Waters said. “We lost any chance of high energy, high level of play that we could. It just kind of deflated us, so today was much, much better.
“We were able to come out and start strong. That’s kind of what we’ve been working on the past week of practice was being able to start faster and build an attack sooner which helped us a lot today.”
With less than two minutes remaining in the first half, West Hall (4-3-1) committed a penalty inside the box resulting in a penalty kick for Dawson County senior Nathan Blythe. The senior made no mistake, converting the penalty to give the Tigers a 2-0 at halftime.
It’s a spot Dawson County has been in before, up 2-0 at halftime against Murray County in the second game of the season, the Tigers allowed three second-half goals to take a 3-2 loss.
“That’s one of the things as an assistant under Coach Lacey that I learned really quickly that a 2-0 lead is one of the toughest things to maintain in soccer,” Waters said. “Just because you know, especially at halftime, you know against a well-coached team like (West Hall) that they’re going to come out ready to go in the second half.”
Waters words rang true as West Hall maintained possession on Dawson County’s side of the field for most of the second half. In response, the Tigers went to a more defensive formation, crowding the middle of the field making it tougher for the Spartans to get the ball through and finish their attacks.
At about the mid-way point of the second half, West Hall was able to break through the Tigers’ defense to cut the lead to 2-1, but unlike the Murry County game, Dawson County was able to hold off the Spartans the rest of the way thanks to a good coaching strategy and some key saves by goalkeeper Braden Davison throughout the game to secure the win.
The Tigers will travel to face Greater Atlanta Christian March 9 and North Hall March 13.