BUFORD -- Despite two of the top five teams in Class AAA meeting in a showdown for first place in Region 7-AAA, neither was the star of the game Tuesday.
Ferocious wind gusts combined with a biting cold hampered both the third-ranked Buford girls and fifth-ranked Dawson County offenses.
The Lady Wolves, however, were able to find just enough manueverability to come away with a 2-1 victory.
The wind wreaked havoc on both teams knocking down passes and making the ball swirl nearly in circles at times. Buford coach Crystal Fowler said it was not like any game she had been a part of.
"Not wind like that," Fowler said. "It was very tough conditions."
It was a big win for the Lady Wolves (9-2, 5-0 Region 7-AAA) who now lead the region by 1 1/2 games over White County, who they play Friday. Dawson County (8-1-2, 2-1) fell to third place with its first loss of the season.
"This was a huge win because now we have a chance on Friday to try and lock things up in the region," Fowler said. "We're just going to try and get ready for White County."
Strategy became key as normal offensive play in both directions were altered by the 30 mph-plus winds.
"We tried to use it in the first half but were kind of unlucky in that we kept putting shots over the goal," Fowler said. "But in the second half I thought we did a good job of passing and controlling the ball."
Both teams were able to score with the wind at their backs. Buford, playing with the wind in the first half, got an arching shot from Elexa Bahr that looped over Dawson County keeper Anela Melton with 22:37 left in the first half for a 1-0 lead. It stayed that way until Dawson County's Tina Libao scored on a beautiful 20-yard shot over the outstretched arms of Buford keeper Lane Crawford to tie the game at 1-1 with 17:00 left in the game.
The team that managed going against the wind would win it. Buford found a way.
Less than two minutes after Libao tied the game, Brie Smith would knock in a rebound off a shot with 15:05 left in the game to give Buford a 2-1 lead.
"The girls did a good job in those conditions," Folwer said. "We knew whoever was able to get something going with the wind in their face would probably win it. We were fortunate to get a chance like that."
Bahr just missed her second goal of the game on a nice looping shot that sailed just high from 18-yards out with 10:00 left.
Buford was able to pressure the Dawson County defense in the early going. The Lady Wolves generated three corners in the first 15 minutes but managed just one shot on goal. The Lady Tigers had two solid runs into Buford territory but was not able to create a shot.
The Lady Wolves kept the pressure on as the Lady Tigers had a hard time clearing the ball in the wind conditions. They generated two more corners in the final 12 minutes but Melton made one diving stop and another blast by Bahr sailed wide of the goal.
Buford had one last push into the Dawson box but a direct kick shot by Brooke Horist sailed high over the net. The first half would end with Buford still leading 1-0.
In the second half, Dawson County used the wind to attack the Buford zone. High chips into the wind turned into long passes but the Lady Tigers could not capitalize. Twice Taylor Bennett had direct kicks for the Lady Tigers but twice chips toward the goal were pushed over the end line by the gusting wind.
Buford countered with a series of passes midway through the half that finished with Ceely Coker getting a clear shot but a bender to the upper right corner sailed just wide.
Dawson County pressed the attack in the final minutes but could not get a quality shot. Buford countered and produced two more corner kicks in the final two minutes to keep the Lady Tigers from a last-ditch effort to send the game into overtime.
Buford finished with eight corners to just one for the Lady Tigers.
NOTES: Dawson County had allowed just one goal over its last four games and just four total over an eight-game stretch before Tuesday. ... Buford's shutout streak ended at four after allowing the one second half goal. ... Both offenses came into the game averaging over eight goals a game over their past four games before Tuesday.
BUFORD BOYS 2
DAWSON COUNTY 1
Buford's Willy Uriostegui scored twice in the first 10 minutes of the game and then the Wolves defense made it stand up in an upset of the No. 2-ranked team in Class AAA.
Buford (4-6-1, 3-2-0 Region 7-AAA) came into the match on the heels of a shutout of Fannin County and is making a late push for a playoff spot. The Wolves moved into second place in the region with the win. The Wolves two region losses were by one goal each.
Dawson County (9-2-0, 2-1-0) saw its nine-game win streak snapped with the loss. The Tigers came in averaging nearly five goals a game. They dropped into a tie for fourth with the loss.