When the Lakeside High School girls soccer team takes on Union Grove tonight in the opening round of the Georgia High School Association Class AAAAA state soccer tournament, the Lady Panthers (12-3) hope to ride the experience of their seniors to victory.
Dubbed “The Four Horsemen” by coach Nick Edmond, Colby Canada, Alexis Dunbar, Rachel Hardin and Cassandra Wade are finishing what they started together four years ago.
“Coach (Edmond) started calling us that when we were freshmen,” said Dunbar. “There’s always been four of us. It just kind of stuck.”
Edmond noted the bond the four quickly developed and that all four were on the field from day one.
“They were starting a playoff game their freshman year, which was huge, especially since we had a lot of juniors and seniors on that team that year,” said Edmond. “It was impressive for them to all start their freshman year.”
Edmond likes how they were able to step up as leaders.
“We only had two seniors last year so they pretty much had to take a leadership role from zero to 100 percent,” Edmond said. “They’ve been a great help for me, showing the younger players. With the big junior class that we have, showing them how it’s supposed to be and when you guys get to be seniors, how you’re supposed to train as a Lakeside player.”
They gave an assist to their coach.
“Nick’s (coach Edmond) helped us a lot with that, he’s made us come together more and tells us how to be there for them to look up to,” said Hardin, who has recorded 50 saves in goal for the Lady Panthers.
While a state title is the ultimate goal, winning a second consecutive region title was huge for the seniors and the team.
“I think winning region was our first step,” said Wade, who leads the team with 27 goals, “I think it makes us very successful. We’ve only had three losses and two of them were to Greenbrier and we were able to defeat them in the region final. That means we’re very successful this season.”
The two region titles meant more to Canada being able to accomplish it with her close friends.
“It’s a really good feeling just to stick together as a team and work hard together, especially being with these three that we did it both years,” Canada said.
When their senior year is over, the four will go their separate ways. Dunbar and Wade are headed to Limestone College and Columbus State University, respectively, while Hardin will go to South Georgia State College; all to continue their soccer careers. Canada is headed to The University of Georgia to start pursuing a career as a dentist or orthodontist and may play intramural soccer.