Dawson County is headed to the state soccer playoffs as the No. 3-seed out of Region 8-AA. The Tigers came from behind to defeat East Hall on April 20 in Gainesville by a 2-1 score.
Even though Head Coach Jed Lacey’s team stayed away from a first round match-up with Greater Atlanta Christian, ranked No. 1 in AA, the team will still have a formable task of playing the No. 2-ranked team in Westminster (14-4).
Westminster finished number two in Region 6-AA, which is arguably the toughest soccer region in the state. Teams in that region include Lovett, GACS, Cross Keys, Buford and Blessed Trinity.
The common opponent for Dawson and Westminster is Cross Keys. The Tigers lost to Cross Keys 4-1 earlier this season. Westminster defeated Cross Keys 4-1.
“We do not care who it is. We are going to state and we will lay it on the line,” Lacey said.
Offensive pressure finally proved too much for East Hall on its home field last week.
The Tigers fell behind early and trailed 1-0 after three minutes of play. The score remained 1-0 at halftime despite several chances to score by Dawson County.
It took a half for the Tigers to get used to an extremely slippery field.
Lacey encouraged his troops at halftime to keep up the hard work on offense and “something good will happen.”
His words proved to be true.
With 3:49 to play, Jose Miranda took a shot at goal that rolled through the Vikings goalie’s hands into the back of the net. The goal was Miranda’s 13th of the season.
The Vikings were noticeably rattled.
Tiger Josh Lund put his team ahead to stay less than a minute later. After a corner kick by Dawson County the ball was pin-balled around in front of the net.
Lund headed the ball past the East Hall goalie for the game winning score.
With the goal, Lund broke the school record for number of goals in a season.
He has 18 on the year.
East Hall couldn’t get a shot on goal in the last two minutes due to a stellar Dawson defense led by Eian Perry, Ethan Brown, Cody McGinnis and goalie Brooks Fulford.
When the final buzzer sounded, Lacey and his staff celebrated. The win was a little bit of revenge for a 1-0 loss a couple of weeks ago. In that game, Dawson County scored two goals that were disallowed by the referee.
“This is the big win for us. Our kids kept fighting. We have won 10 games or more for the fourth year in a row. We may have peaked a little bit after defeating last year’s state champion Thomasville earlier this season. I feel with this big win we are back on track,” Lacey said.
“What a game. The kids are awesome. They never give up. That was the most exciting game I have ever been involved in,” Lacey said.
The Tigers had a great performance by Fulford in goal. Despite giving up an early goal he rebounded to make several saves and keep Dawson in the game.
Forwards Josh Lund, Jose Miranda and Sam Edwards kept pressure on the East Hall defense the entire second half. The trio had several long runs attacking the Viking goal. The constant harassment finally paid off in the final three minutes of the game.
With the win, Dawson is currently 10-6 on the season.
The team will travel to Westminster Friday. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.