For the first time in the history of boys' soccer at Thomson High School, the Bulldogs find themselves in the Georgia Class AAA State Playoffs.
And first year-head coach Jimy Dominquez-Young couldn't be more proud.
"I'm really very proud of my players," coach Dominquez-Young told The McDuffie Mirror during a telephone interview on Monday night. "They have worked very hard this season to get to this point."
The Bulldogs, now 9-5-1 overall and who finished with a 6-4 record in Region 3-AAA play, find themselves the No. 3 seed team going against LaGrange in the First-Round of the Class AAA State Playoffs tonight (Thursday) in LaGrange. Game time is 6 p.m. Coverage of that game will be included in an article in next week's sports section.
Thomson finished third in the region standings behind Richmond Hill, which captured the region championship and Baldwin, which finished runners-up only by virtue of having scored more goals than the Bulldogs during the season.
As for the upcoming playoff game, coach Dominquez-Young said his personal expectations of the game were the same as any game his team has played this season.
"I want to win and my team wants to win," coach Dominquez-Young said. "I feel if they give their best effort out on the field, they will have as good a chance as the other team to win."
Like in all previous games this season, he believes that when his team has departed the field of play, they should do so without any regrets.
"They should feel within their hearts they gave it everything they had," coach Dominquez-Young added.
The Thomson coach feels his team is playing much better than they were at the start of the season. There are many reasons as to why he believes that about his team.
For one thing, the Bulldogs are blessed to have Jay Bieltz on their team. Bieltz, a senior, is the top boys' soccer scorer in the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA). He also leads his team in that department. Earlier this season, Bieltz eclipsed the all-time scoring mark of 89 goals at Thomson High School.
"Jay has set many good examples for our younger players," coach Dominquez-Young said. "He's an excellent soccer player and very respectful when it comes to be addressed about certain things on the soccer field by myself or the team's assistant coach."
Because Bieltz is such an intense player and such a competitor, he often puts more pressure on himself than he should, the head coach explained.
"When Jay plays calmly, he's a much better player, overall," coach Dominquez-Young added. "He doesn't play as well when he's frustrated."
Another player, Justin Bettross, a junior, also will be heavily counted on in the playoff game against LaGrange, he said.
"Justin is such an unselfish player," coach Dominquez-Young said. "He, too, is a very good player. He has been an excellent player/teacher to many of his teammates."
Coach Dominquez-Young also is proud of the performances of Jonathan Atkins, who came on about mid-season to become the team's starting goalie after starting the season as a reserve player. Atkins is a sophomore and in his first year of playing soccer.
"Jonathan has improved in every game he's played in this season," coach Dominquez-Young said. "I hope he continues to show improvement in the playoffs."