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Lacey and Queen top the region
S-Lacey and Queen pic
Jed Lacey has coached Region 7-AAA player of the year Emily Queen throughout her high school career. This year he was named girls region coach of the year. - photo by Amy French Dawson County News

Coach Jed Lacey's commitment to soccer is unwavering.

The Dawson County High School boys and girls programs are the benefactors.

Lacey was recently named girls coach of the year in Region 7-AAA and senior Emily Queen was voted player of the year.

Both of the DCHS soccer programs finished in the Elite Eight of the state tournament and the girls took home a region championship.

"This is my life. I live and die for soccer. This is what I believe in," Lacey said. "These kids deserve it. They spill their blood on the field for me. Everything I do I want to give back to them because they play so hard for me."

Lacey has coached soccer for 21 years, nine of those at DCHS.

When he joined the program, the Tigers had never had a winning season in soccer. Since he's been there, they've not had a losing season.

In his first season as the boys' head coach, the team made it to the Sweet 16 round of the state playoffs.

"The first year we raised $25,000, went to Jekyll Island, played in the tournament, took a charter bus, got brand new uniforms, new bags and they were like ‘Oh my God.' From then on it was just a building process. Once they believed, it was never coming back. Each year we got better and better and better. Each team had credit for that," he said.

Lacey now coaches both the boys and girls programs.

"I will coach as long as I can and I love doing two teams. I absolutely adore it," he said.

Lacey was able to change the culture and a big part of that was building unity among the players. For the girls that means heading to camp every year in Kentucky.

This is where the team comes together according to both Lacey and Queen.

"Talk about close? This is when we build our bond. These girls get so close in five days. When you go up there they are all individuals and we come back, it's one heartbeat," he said.

Queen echoed the sentiment while talking about the chemistry of this year's region championship team.

"We started bonding from that," she said.

The girls finished their season at 16-2-1 and clinched the region championship with their 6-0 win over Banks County.

Their state tournament run ended in the Elite Eight with a loss to Westminster who went on to win the state championship.

"Westminster beat Blessed Trinity 4-0. So we did better against Westminster than Blessed Trinity so I think we could've taken them out if we were on the other side of the bracket. Every year it is like this. Three years we have been knocked out by the state champion," she said.

When Queen told her dad she had been named Region 7-AAA soccer player of the year, he didn't believe her.

"He thought I was like playing a joke," Queen said.

The four-year player under Lacey is polite and soft-spoken and it is hard to believe the kind of competitor she becomes when she steps on the field.

"She is one of the most amazing people I have ever seen," Lacey said. "Off and on the field, she is two different people. I mean completely two-and she is such animal on the field."

Queen has played soccer since she was six years old and she decided she wasn't going to play at the next level, so this was it.

"I just worked a lot harder this year before the season started, so it paid off," Queen said.

"I thought conditioning was fun this year. When you get in shape it is amazing how fun it is to play," she said.

For Queen's freshman, sophomore and junior years, the girls team ended as runner ups in the region.

Not this year.

"Senior year, this team has been my favorite team all four years. The freshmen we had this year were soccer players and they had like the best attitudes and they worked so hard. Sometimes I was scared for my own position they were so good but I loved them so much. I wish I could keep playing with them next year," Queen said.

Queen finished the season with 16 goals and eight assists.

"People see the sweet little Emily walking around, but she is an assassin," Lacey said.

She tried to decide what she was most proud of from the year: "It's a toss-up between Player of the Year and Region Champs. I think the championship means more though to me. After three years in a row doing the runner up, it's what I wanted most."

Queen will attend the University of Georgia in the fall.

Queen and Lacey were not the only ones with region honors. Four girls (including Queen) were part of the all-region first team: Fallan Lacey, Emily Queen, Rachel Rajzak and Ava Walker. On the second team were Brooke Cagle, Mackenzie Callas, Jessie Chambers and Tina Libao. Lydia Blythe, Devon Coates, Mckenzie Kimbral, Frankie Muldoon, Ruthie Pittman and Ashley Stanfill all received honorable mentions.

The boys' first team all-region included: Ty Anglin, Dennis Pyetsukh and Alan Sanchez. On the second team were Timothy Moody, Nathan Blythe and Andrew Goley. Honorable mentions included Jake Alvarado, Cole Dennis, Jason Mays, Patrick Moody and Nick Murphy.