From a narrow 2-1 victory at Harrison to begin the year, to their last game — a 10-0 rout April 1 at Darlington — the Trojans have dispatched each and every foe they’ve faced, leading to their 14-0 mark and No. 1 ranking in Class AAAAAA.
Among the victories have been five one-goal wins and nine shutouts, prompting first-year coach Sam Dietrich to recall a time at the beginning of the season when he felt good things about his team.
“When I first walked in (for the first practice), I saw a team with potential,” he said. “It was just a matter of them staying focused and working hard towards a goal.
“There was a willingness to win from them even during training. They fought for every ball.”
That hard work and focus has so far led Lassiter to an undefeated season, including a 5-0 mark in Region 5AAAAAA. Others have taken notice, too, as the Trojans were third — behind No. 1 Wando (S.C.) and No. 2 McIntosh — in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s most recent national rankings.
“Rankings don’t mean a lot to me,” Dietrich said. “The most important one is at the end of the season when everything’s over. It’s about how you finish, so I don’t pay attention to rankings.
“They do attract attention, though, and they get people talking, so I appreciate that my peers think so highly of our program.”
With a starting lineup that includes seven seniors, three juniors and one freshman, Lassiter has outscored its opponents 59-7, including a 26-0 shutout of their last four foes. A few senior leaders include forward Alex Champion, midfielders Clay Dimick and Robbie Cutchin, defender Will Stubbs and goalkeeper Justin Shaw.
“I knew we had a talented group,” Dietrich said. “I think our biggest asset is our group of seniors. They all had a goal in the mind when the season started and that’s to win the state championship. They’re doing the things necessary to make sure everyone else is on board with that goal as well.
“The seniors always show up to work. They did the same thing even during the preseason. This group has been committed from the very beginning.”
There’s a reason for such commitment. The last time Lassiter was this good was in 2011 — a team that went 16-0-1 in the regular season before losing 2-1 to Collins Hill in the semifinals.
The Trojans, who last a state championship in 1996, hasn’t played for a title since then. They’ve only been as far as the semifinals twice.
For Lassiter to get to the final game this season, it will have to rely on the thing that has helped it so far this year — balance.
“Our overall team effort is our strength,” Dietrich said. “It’s the balance and resolve we have on offense and defense that’s been the key for us.”
In order to maintain its undefeated season and lofty national ranking, Lassiter will have to overcome east
Cobb rival Walton (10-4, 5-1) today at Frank Fillmann Stadium before its regular-season finale against Norcross (6-9) on Tuesday.
Not only will pride be on the line for Lassiter against Walton, but also the Region 5AAAAAA championship and a No. 1 seed in the upcoming state playoffs.
“This is a big game,” Dietrich said. “It’s a rivalry game and it’s the region championship for the winner. It should be a good match. We’ll have to work hard to get a win.”