Lakeside's George Downey doesn't play goalkeeper for the Panthers, but on Friday night he could have been mistaken for one.
Downey made two big defensive stops and the rest of the Panthers' defense chipped in to shut out the Dalton Catamounts 2-0 in the quarterfinals of the Georgia High School Association Class AAAA state soccer playoffs at Panther Stadium.
Lakeside advances to the final four for the third consecutive season. The Panthers will be on the road Tuesday, taking on the winner of Friday's Heritage vs. Oconee game.
Downey, a senior defender who switched from midfield earlier in the year, made his deflections in the second half on shots by Dalton's Tony Franco.
"George is a warrior," Panthers coach Dave Morgan said. "He won't quit. We stress defense first all over the field. We work hard and play smart, under-control defense. Our guys pride themselves on it."
Despite being outshot in the game, 15-12, the Panthers gave up only three quality shots, which goalkeeper Lee Vick stopped easily.
Lakeside took advantage of a Dalton blunder for the only goal in the first half. Grant Guthrie, who earlier just tapped a shot over the goal, threw the ball in toward Catamounts goalie Oscar Garcia. Garcia gained control of the ball, but as he tried to clear it, the ball slipped free. After a scramble, Lakeside's Jonathan Spencer struck it home from the top of the box with 7:26 left in the half.
"There were a lot of players banging around inside," Dalton coach Matt Cheaves said. "The ball just squirted loose."
The Panthers (15-4-1) spent the rest of the game relying on their strong defense and looking for some breathing room. The Catamounts (17-1-1) wouldn't let them rest easy, though.
The visitors came out inspired in the second half, outshooting the Panthers 11-4, but couldn't get anything past Downey or Vick.
"I felt Lakeside dominated the entire first half," Cheaves said. "They were fortunate to get a goal. In the second half we came out and played our game."
Despite controlling the second half, Lakeside got the cushion it was looking for with its final goal, coming with 11:32 left in the game.
Guthrie fired home a perfect, 28-yard blast into the upper-right corner of the goal past Garcia's outstretched fingers to finish the Catamounts' year.
"The shot Grant hit ... one of the best I've ever seen," Morgan said.
AQUINAS 2, PAIDEIA 1, OT: Ashleigh Anderson scored just shy of the 10-minute mark in overtime Friday night to send the Aquinas girls into the Georgia Class A Final Four.
The Irish eliminated Paideia 2-1 to move into Wednesday's semifinal game against the Savannah Country Day vs. Pace Academy winner.
Erin Sullivan scored Aquinas' goal in regulation and Sarah Hartman had a goal for Paideia.
Anna Quinones had nine saves in goal to provide the stopper for Aquinas (15-6).
Reach Raymond Beasock at (706) 823-3221.
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