Grayson's young, talented players controlled possession for the better part of the game. They had a handful of good shots they normally nail. Their defense was solid. But in the end, it was Lassiter that came through when it mattered most, scoring both of its goals in the second half and holding on for a 2-0 win in the first round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs.
The No. 3 seeded Rams, ranked fifth in the state, had no reason to hang their heads. They battled the No. 2 Trojans, but couldn't catch the break they needed. With 15 minutes remaining, Grayson thought it had broken through to cut into a 2-0 deficit when Alexa Webb appeared to score in front of the net. But referees ruled the Rams had obstructed Lassiter goalie Shannon DeSantis. Grayson coach Danny Klinect thought the goal was good and added that it could've made a difference. But he offered no excuses.
"We definitely controlled the flow, but (Lassiter) made some good adjustments at halftime," he said. "We were making moves up the field, but we just couldn't finish. But they're a good, quality team. They defended well and didn't panic."
Lassiter head coach Robbie Galvin said he knew Grayson was one of the best teams in the state. "It's unfortunate two teams like this have to play in the first round," he said.
The Trojans, 13-3-1, entered the game ranked No. 8 in the state.
Referees told him that the game was worthy of a semifinal match, he said.
He praised the strong, dynamic play of Grayson's players. Ella Stevens dazzled in the midfield with her ball skills and Webb, Bobbi Ayers and Amanda Baker flashed their speed up top. In the second half, Galvin made some defensive switches to cut off Grayson's runs and the Trojans made a few of their own. Breanne Thompson punctuated both, first drilling a left-footed shot from 20 yards out that sneaked in right corner of the goal in the 49th minute. Thompson broke free again, dashing straight up the middle for a goal assisted by Kalli Vogel in the 63rd minute.
"She's fantastic," Klinect said of Thompson. "She hit that one on the far post and she finished well. She led them back in the second half."
Excluding the obstruction call, Grayson never threatened again. It was only the second time the Rams have been shut out this year (Parkview). But Klinect has little doubt that they will threaten next year and beyond. The Rams have only three seniors and three juniors.
"We were expecting a real hard fight and that's what we got from (Lassiter)," Klinect said. "But I'm proud of my girls. They worked so hard all year. I can't say enough about them. The future is very promising for this team. I'm expecting big things next year. They're a great bunch of girls."
Klinect added that it's tough to advance as a No. 3 seed because the competition is so stiff in Gwinnett, Cobb, Fulton and even Forsyth now. "It's a battle of survival," he said. "We needed to be a first or second seed so we could've hosted. But it's going to be a good future for Grayson. This is a big stepping stone."