By Devin Golden
Replicating the start of last year’s Class 4A state title match, Dalton High School’s boys soccer team needed just four minutes to score its first goal at Southeast Whitfield on Friday.
The Catamounts scored five more — and again defended their crown of dominance in the sport.
Dalton built a 6-1 lead before Southeast scored twice in the final two minutes of its senior night, and the Catamounts won 6-3 at Raider Stadium for their sixth win against the Raiders in the past two seasons. Dalton’s undefeated streak continues at 37 matches with the non-league victory.
Ranked No. 1 in eurosportscoreboard.com’s Class 4A poll, Dalton (14-0-1) worked possession into Southeast’s side of the field and Justen Macias received a pass and chipped over the charging Southeast goalkeeper, Ivan Ortiz, to put the Catamounts ahead quickly.
“Scoring early takes the pressure off,” Dalton coach Matt Cheaves said.
Dalton, which clinched the Sub-region 7B-4A championship weeks ago, scored twice more — Churrui Huitanda in the 15th minute on a similar play to the first goal and Eder Mora in the 16th minute on a free kick that managed to slide through a sea of players and inside the far post.
Seventh-ranked Southeast (9-4-2) earned a penalty kick on a late tackle in the 18th minute, and Miguel Hernandez converted to give Southeast fans their first reason to cheer.
Huitanda gave Dalton its 4-1 halftime lead when his shot from around 20 yards out deflected off a Southeast player and sailed into the net’s top-left corner.
“It was poor marking on the first goal,” Southeast coach Kevin Kettenring said. “The second two looked like confusion for the keeper. They were right in that middle ground of not sure whether to come or not. The fourth was just (bad luck).”
Catamounts defender Pepe Gardea scored on a rebound in the 58th minute and Javier Rodriguez scored Dalton’s last goal in the 67th minute. After Dalton’s Kiko Rodriguez received a red card for his second yellow card in the 73rd minute, Southeast earned its second penalty kick for an arm grab near the net. David Gonzalez converted the 79th-minute chance, and the Raiders scored again in the 80th minute.
“They got two goals in the final two minutes,” Cheaves said, “and we were playing down a man and had pretty much all subs in.”
Dalton took 11 shots on goal to Southeast’s five, but the Catamounts had 18 set plays from free kicks, corner kicks or deep throw-ins to the Raiders’ nine. Ortiz made three saves while Dalton keeper Samuel Fraire recorded two.
• Southeast girls 1, Dalton 0: Jennifer Contreras’ 88th-minute goal gave the Lady Raiders (3-8) a positive ending to their season.
After the teams played scoreless through regulation, Contreras’ shot off a rebound bounced just inside the left post. Southeast goalkeeper Sidney Covington made 10 saves, including two in extra time on shots from Liz Cloud and Angeles Altamirano.
“We have a pretty small senior class this year of four,” Southeast coach Mark Parsons said. “We have a big junior class with a lot of playing experience and we should be improved next year.”
While Southeast won’t compete in next week’s Region 7-4A playoffs, Dalton (8-4-1) enters as a No. 3 seed from its sub-region.
“Hats off to Southeast,” Dalton coach Tony Carlson said. “They finished the game. They earned it and deserved it.”
• Morris Innovative boys 2, Armuchee 1: The Tigers (9-5, 9-4 Region 7-2A) controlled possession on the road and stepped into unprecedented territory for the school where athletics is concerned.
Morris Innovative coach Ernie Dempsey said the victory clinched at least a top-four finish in the region and assured the Tigers of becoming the Dalton Public Schools institution’s first team to reach the state playoffs. Dempsey said the Tigers would win the tiebreakers with Dade County, which he said is the team closest behind them in the standings.
Morris Innovative opened in 2009 and added athletics via a junior varsity boys basketball team and the boys soccer program for the 2011-12 school year. Dempsey said the boys soccer team will also be the first in school history to finish a season with a winning record.
“I hope every kid in our (school) can enjoy it at least a little,” he said, “because it’s pretty cool.”
On Friday, the Tigers got a first-half goal from Sergio Mendiola and a second-half goal from Elmer Hernandez before giving up Armuchee’s score in the final two minutes.
“Armuchee’s defense played pretty well tonight and they made it difficult for us to put the ball in the net,” Dempsey said. “The score doesn’t do it justice, but we really controlled the ball.”
• Armuchee girls 10, Morris Innovative 0: The Lady Tigers (1-13, 1-12 Region 7-2A) played a nine-on-nine match — Morris Innovative coach Irene Quintero said some of her players didn’t show up and Armuchee agreed to leave two players off the field to make it even — but lost two players to injury near the end of the first half and was short-handed the rest of the way.
Morris Innovative trailed 5-0 at halftime. The match ended before regulation time because of the mercy rule, although Quintero was unsure of how much time remained.
• Murray County boys 4, Dade County 0: Jose Ruiz had a hat trick and an assist to lead the Indians to a key Region 7-2A win in Trenton.
Juan Bautista added a goal and an assist, while Alejandro Ramirez also finished with an assist and Roberto Zuniga had four saves in goal for Murray County (10-3, 10-2).
• Dade County girls 8, Murray County 0: Halen Thomas had 24 saves in goal for the Lady Indians (4-8-1, 4-8) in the road loss.
• Results from Christian Heritage’s girls match at Ridgeland were not reported by The Daily Citizen’s deadline.
• Chad Flanders’ 6-over-par 78 led Northwest Whitfield’s boys as they opened with a team total of 333 in the Hardaway Invitational at Bull Creek Golf Course in Columbus.
Also scoring for the Bruins were Ethan Hayes (80), Tyler Clayton (87) and Chandler Lomax (88).
Northwest coach Greg Brown did not know team standings after the opening round. The 36-hole event finishes today.
• Notre Dame (Chattanooga) girls 8, Dalton 1: The lone court victory in the road loss for the Lady Cats (8-9) came in doubles as No. 2 Shelby Fromm and Mary Margaret Snipes won 8-2 in pro-set play.
The defeat closed the regular season for Dalton, which holds a No. 1 seed for the Region 7-4A tournament, which is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday at Lakeshore Park in Dalton.
• Dalton boys 6, Notre Dame (Chattanooga) 3: The Cats (13-4) closed their regular season with a win in Tennessee, getting singles victories from No. 3 Nathan Bryant, 8-4, No. 4 Will Alderman, 8-0, No. 5 Sam Dyer, 8-6, and No. 6 Bennett Wills, 8-1, plus doubles wins from No. 2 Bryant and Thomas DeLay, 8-0, and No. 3 Shazman Ali and Dyer, who accepted a forfeit.
Dalton’s boys are a No. 1 seed for next week’s Region 7-4A tournament.
• Murray County girls 4, Pepperell 1: Murray County (13-1, 6-1 Region 7-2A) swept singles to close the regular season with a road victory, getting wins from No. 1 Greta Lazzarotto, 6-0, 6-1, No. 2 Gabbie Bordelon, 6-3, 6-4, and No. 3 Allison Jones, 6-1, 6-2.
The Lady Indians also picked up a team point in doubles. The No. 1 team of Chloe Brown and Kailey Webb won their first set 7-5, lost their second 4-6 and were tied at 3 in the third when their opponents retired because of injury.
Murray County is the No. 2 seed for the eight-team Region 7-2A tournament, which is set for Tuesday and Wednesday at the Calhoun Tennis Center.
• Pepperell boys 5, Murray County 0: The Indians dropped to 1-13 overall and 0-7 in Region 7-2A play with the road loss.