Local News

May 16, 2014

Fans pumped for state soccer match

— With the end of the school year and graduation less than a week away at Dalton High School, another source of excitement for the faculty and the student body is the quest by the boys soccer team for another state championship.

The Catamounts won the Georgia High School Association’s Class 4A state title last year with a victory over local rival Southeast Whitfield 5-0 in the championship game at Carrollton’s West Georgia University. This time around, coach Matt Cheaves’ team will have a shorter drive south on I-75. Dalton will face Johnson-Gainesville today at 2:30 p.m. at Kennesaw State University’s Fifth Third Bank Stadium in the championship game.

“I have to fill up my truck with horns, drums and family members and get down there,” said senior student Alex Puentes. “It is really exciting. The majority of the team are seniors, and most of them are my friends. I tried out for the team and didn’t make it, but you still have to support them. It is a great feeling going to the games and being a great fan.”

Tickets for today’s game are $10.

Puentes and fellow classmate Johan Vargas are part of the Cats’ fan base anxious to cheer on the team to what could be Dalton’s third boys soccer state title. In addition to winning last year’s title over the Raiders, Dalton claims a share of the 2003 state title with Heritage-Conyers.

While Puentes is on the horn during Dalton soccer games, Vargas is his partner on the drums. The pair are part of a group of students that is expected to be at full capacity today to cheer on the Cats, who have not been beaten in their last 44 contests during the last two seasons. Vargas said it is the responsibility of the student body to cheer on the team to another title.

“I like soccer a lot, and I feel like we need to support our Cats,” Vargas said. “Winning state last year and going for another ring this year, I think that is pretty cool. I am expecting a big crowd this year. It is closer than last year, and I think people should expect us to win another one.”

Earlier this year, the Dalton fan base became known for the copious amount of baby powder that was sprayed into the air after goals were scored in a win against Southeast. Both Puentes and Vargas hinted at another kind of demonstration for the state title game.

“We are going to take some, um, materials to show our support,” Vargas said, careful not to spoil any surprises.

Teachers Amy Gleaton and girls basketball coach Lacie Coquerille were both sporting soccer jerseys at school on Friday, and Gleaton said she is ready to be in the cheering section today.

“I think (the students) have been very excited throughout,” Gleaton said. “They celebrate the success of their classmates. I am excited that they see that hard work pays off. I think they are champions regardless of what the scoreboard says (today).”

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