The Dawson County High School varsity Tigers soccer team played a classic game against St. Pius May 6 at Tigers Stadium. In a game that will be talked about for years, the Tigers lost 2-1 on penalty kicks to the Lions in the State Class AAA Sweet Sixteen.
Coach Jed Lacey's team fought to the bitter end before succumbing 13-12 on penalty kicks.
The loss ends Dawson County's season at 15-3.
St. Pius (16-5) defeated Pierce County in the Elite Eight 3-0 and advanced to the Final Four to play North Hall. The other semi-final game will be West Hall against Oconee County.
"This was one of the greatest games every played in Georgia High School history in my opinion. I give all the credit to St. Pius for winning the game. Our kids played so hard to go after their dream of winning the state and I thought this was our year. I just feel so bad for my boys," Lacey said.
The Tigers scored just three minutes into the second half on a goal by Cole Edwards. It was Edwards' 14th goal of the season, on a pass from Randy Schultz.
St. Pius evened the game on a penalty kick with 32:43 to go in the game.
After both teams played two halves of overtime, the game went to penalty kicks. Each team missed penalty kicks.
The game stayed tied until St. Pius missed in the 12th round, opening the door for the Tigers. Dawson County couldn't take advantage as Alan Sanchez's shot missed.
In the 15th round, Tiger Josh Litherland's shot was stopped by the Lion goalie ending the game and giving the victory to St. Pius.
Both teams had chances to win in regulation, but neither team could find the back of the net.
"Our team defense was played to perfection," Lacey said. "We had a plan and we stuck to it and should have come out of here with a victory. St. Pius is a great team but we had two advantages in the 15 rounds and did not put them away. We had St. Pius on the canvas and let them up. You cannot do that to great teams and live to tell about it and we paid the price."
Dawson County will graduate eight seniors: Drew Bishop, Austin Stewart, Ben Leaver, Brooks Fulford, Litherland, Daniel Gonzalez, Edwards and Jake Smith.
Goalie Fulford played a tremendous game and stopped shot after shot from the Lions.
"Brooks Fulford had the game of his life in his final high school game. He made some great saves tonight."
Fulford has started in goal since he was a freshman.
The Tiger's defensive team was outstanding, despite the loss. Austin Steward, Ben Leaver, Josh Sage and Timothy Moody stopped the St. Pius attack time after time.
"These players on defense would not give any ground around the net to St. Pius. I am so proud of their effort tonight. We are going to miss Ben (Leaver) and Austin (Steward) who are both seniors," he said.
With the loss Dawson County's season came to an end.