Perhaps there is no better true powerhouse soccer program quite like Dawson County, at least in North Georgia.
Over the past decade, the boys and girls have enjoyed consistent domination on the pitch, leading to deep stay playoff runs and a trophy case full of region titles and playoff soccer balls. With that has come a slew of individual awards, including Coach of the Year awards for Jed Lacey, who’s now in his tenth season as head coach of the program.
Before Lacey came to Dawsonville, there wasn’t much to write about in terms of Dawson County soccer. Since his arrival, there has no doubt been a change in the atmosphere. Since 2010, the Lady Tigers have won 92 games entering Tuesday’s match against Flowery Branch. The Tigers have won 88.
The boys have been ranked in the top ten in Georgia in each season since 2011; girls since 2012. Deep state playoff runs are an expectation for both squads. The Lady Tigers have three Elite 8 trips and a Sweet 16 appearance, while the boys have two such Elite 8 trips and a Sweet 16 run. Both teams enter this season in the top five in the state rankings and are both looking for a third straight run to the Elite 8 or further.
Lacey, who is six wins shy of 200 for his career, has more in mind for the Dawson program, however.
“This team is hungry,” says Lacey of the boys program. “The core of the kids coming back this year, and I think they want it. If these kids want to win it all, they can do it – we have the talent to do it.”
The stage is set for both teams in 2017 to have that level of success. For the Lady Tigers, they return a potent offense led by senior Mackenzie Callas and sophomore Rachel Rajczak, who has ten goals in just four games this season, as well as six assists. While the offense this season has scored 32 goals (8 per game), the more impressive stat might be on the defense. So far, only two goals have been allowed, while last year the Lady Tigers surrendered just nine goals all season while scoring a school-record 80-plus goals.
The Tigers return school-record scorer Dennis Pyetsukh (24 goals, 12 assists in 2016), who is just a junior. Senior Cole Dennis is also a huge threat returning for the guys, who outscore opponents 11-3 so far this season.
The Lady Tigers (4-0) are defending region champs after posting a 16-2-1 mark last year. The Tigers (3-0-1) are coming off a 14-4-1 campaign in 2016. Both squads fell just shy of the state semifinals.