The North Hall boys soccer team defeated Dawson County 4-3 on penalty kicks for a 2-1 win over the Tigers in a battle between a pair of top-5 ranked teams on Thursday at the Brickyard.
Class AAA’s fourth-ranked Tigers were vying for the region championship and No. 1 seed in the state playoffs. The fifth-ranked Trojans were looking to play spoiler and gain the No. 2 seed. Their play didn’t disappoint.
With the victory, North Hall (9-3-2, 6-1 Region 7-AAA) hosts Woodward Academy in the first round of the state tournament next week as the region runner-up.
Dawson County’s (13-2, 5-2) road went from No. 1 seed and Region 7-AAA champions to becoming the No. 4 seed and traveling to top-ranked St. Pius X for their first-round game. With the Trojans’ win, West Hall has won the Region 7-AAA championship, and will play as a No. 1-seed for the state playoffs.
“I knew it would be a good match,” North Hall coach Jonathan Lillie said. “I knew it would be close. I knew it would be hard fought. These guys have worked hard.”
Hard-working is what the Trojans had to be throughout the course of the game.
Just over nine minutes into the first half, North Hall’s Jake Stephens broke the 0-0 tie with a penalty-kick goal to give the Trojans a 1-0 lead.
But the lead didn’t sustain itself. One minute later, the Tigers’ Josh Lund tied the game at 1-1. There would be no more scoring for more than 80 minutes until penalty kicks became the deciding factor.
Elias’ biggest stop of the night didn’t come during the penalty kicks, but instead with under a minute left in regulation, according to Lillie.
“I’m very confident in our keeper. We have a great, great keeper,” Lillie said about Trojans’ junior goalkeeper Abraham Elias.
“Abraham Elias has been a starting keeper every year he’s been here, and tonight it showed. That key save in the second half, the header, that could have easily been a goal. (Dawson County) was in the right spot. He just made a great save.”
Stephens, Hunter Carter and Tyler Shows buried penalty kicks for North Hall before Chance Martin tallied the game-winner.
Lillie also said Wednesday night’s win was big for the playoff seeding, and likes where his team is sitting heading into the state playoffs.
“That’s a big deal,” Lillie said. “We’re going up against Region 6. With the two spot, we got a great shot at hitting with Woodward.”
They don’t look like they normally do. Plus a home game — that’s big time. Taking that second spot means we host the playoff game. That means a lot too. That’s a big advantage.”
NORTH HALL GIRLS 2, DAWSON COUNTY 1: The Lady Trojans’ defense held off any potential for a late Lady Tigers’ rally Wednesday night.
Dawson County’s Taylor Burnett started the scoring as she booted her team ahead 1-0 in the first half.
North Hall’s Sarah Hollifield and Olivia Smith responded back before the half ended to give the Lady Trojans the lead, which they would sustain for the rest of the night.