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Dawson County boys soccer spoils West Hall's region title bid with 1-0 win

Lund's early goal puts Tigers back in contention for Region 7-AAA crown

POSTED: April 15, 2014 11:28 p.m.
Nat Gurley | The Times/

West Hall goalkeeper Cesar Villa dives on a penalty kick Tuesday against Dawson County. Villa successfully blocked Cole Edwards' kick and dove on the ball as it tumbled out of his hands.

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West Hall’s boys soccer team entered Tuesday’s game gunning for the Region 7-AAA championship.

Dawson County had other plans.

Brandon Lund’s goal 2½ minutes into the game was all the fifth-ranked Tigers needed to spoil the fourth-ranked Spartans’ bid for the region title, holding on for a 1-0 win in Oakwood.

Lund tapped in an assist from Ben Leaver at the 37:29 mark of the first half to stun West Hall (9-5-2, 5-1), which would have clinched the region crown with a win.

Instead, Dawson now controls its own destiny for the region championship.

“When you score a goal that early, it brings your team up,” Lund said. “We think we can score more, because it wasn’t hard.”

Dawson County (12-2, 4-1) didn’t do that, but it didn’t need to, either.

Despite a shooting barrage by West Hall in the second half, the Tigers’ defense — which stacked the box with extra players — stood tall against the Spartans’ sharpshooters.

Heavy winds that rushed through the area Tuesday night also played a part in keeping the ball out of danger.

“When the wind picked up, we had to drop an extra man back,” Dawson County coach Jed Lacey said. “We played five defenders towards the end. The wind died on us, so we moved them up, and when it came back, we shoved them back again. Everybody did a good job.”

West Hall’s loss is Dawson County’s gain. The Tigers can secure their second region title in team history with wins against Banks County and East Hall to close out their regular season schedule.

In a region that features four teams ranked in Class AAA, earning the top spot is quite the accomplishment.

“We know how good this team is,” Lacey said. “This is the best team we’ve had at Dawson County. We don’t have a deep bench, but we have 12-13 deep that we can go with.”

West Hall can still win the region, but will need to defeat North Hall on Friday and depend on Dawson County losing one of its last two games.

Just four minutes after Lund's goal, the Tigers nearly took a two-goal lead when Cole Edwards was awarded a penalty kick, but goalkeeper Cesar Villa jumped on the rolling shot attempt and the ensuing rebound.

The Spartans saw plenty of scoring opportunities thereafter, particularly in the second half.

Three minutes into the half, Jordan Moreno watched a long shot from outside the box bounce off the crossbar. Thirty-three minutes later, after several hard shots on goal by West Hall, Simon Cobian forced Alford to make a diving save with traffic in front of him.

“This was definitely a statement game, because (West Hall) was great,” Lacey said. “You have to give them props. They’re a tremendous team — great players, well coached."

DAWSON COUNTY GIRLS 3, WEST HALL 0: Taylor Bennett, Riley Cox and Emily Queen each scored, and the sixth-ranked Lady Tigers moved one game closer to clinching second place in Region 7-AAA with Tuesday’s shutout.

The win allowed Dawson County (10-2-2, 4-1) to jump West Hall in the region standings with two games left to play. The Lady Tigers can secure the No. 2 spot with a win against Banks County on Friday in Dawsonville.
Buford has already clinched the region title after finishing unbeaten in region play.

The Lady Spartans (6-9-1, 4-2) can still finish second and earn home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs with a win against North Hall on Friday, paired with Dawson County losing its last two region games.

The Lady Tigers led 2-0 at halftime after Bennett’s goal in the 22nd minute off a hard shot from the right side of the box, followed by Cox’s shot five minutes later that deflected off a West Hall defender and into the Lady Spartans’ net.

After Tina Libao missed a penalty kick for Dawson County in the 54th minute, Queen ripped a shot three minutes later that slipped out of the reach of West Hall goalkeeper Kylie Beaman and rolled into the net.

Anela Melton recorded the shutout for the Lady Tigers, stopping a penalty kick by Gabrielle Ligas in the 44th minute.

West Hall’s best scoring opportunity in the first half came with a minute left to play on a shot by Katie Forrester that bounced off the crossbar.


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