The first round of the Region 7-4A boys high school soccer playoffs went as expected for Dalton, Northwest Whitfield and Southeast Whitfield.
They won with ease and — at least in the case of two of the three teams — will prepare to see one another again.
It took less than 10 minutes for Dalton to score its first goal against visiting Cedartown on Tuesday at Harmon Field, and the Catamounts scored plenty more on their way to an 8-0 victory, which clinched a spot in the Class 4A state playoffs.
In other games, Northwest won 10-0 against visiting Pickens and Southeast won 4-1 at Cass. In the girls playoffs, Northwest won 8-0 against Cedartown in Tunnel Hill and Dalton lost 6-5 in overtime at River Ridge.
The Cats (15-0), ranked No. 1 in the eurosportscoeboard.com Class 4A poll, proved why once again. Dalton took 34 shots on goal and 17 corner kicks, while the Bulldogs didn’t manage one in either category.
When Dalton wanted to attack, it was able. When the Cats wanted to keep possession with its midfield and defenders, the Bulldogs (6-8) were helplessly chasing. It was a rare sight for Cedartown to have control of the ball in Dalton’s side of the field.
If there was anything to be critical of, Dalton coach Matt Cheaves said, it was that the first goal didn’t come sooner. After not scoring for the first nine minutes, Dalton scored five times in the next 10 and held a 7-0 halftime lead.
“Early on we had several close-range chances we should’ve finished and didn’t,” he said, acknowledging his critique was a picky one considering how well the Cats played.
“I’m the coach, so I have to look for that.”
The second half was shortened to 20 minutes via the mercy rule.
Dalton put in mostly substitutes around the halfway point in the first half and used an all-senior group to begin the second half in celebration of senior night.
The Cats host Southeast in Friday’s region semifinals — the kickoff time is to be determined — and the region championship could be against Northwest. Dalton beat both rivals twice this season, although they offered the toughest matches. Southeast lost 3-1 and 2-0, while Northwest lost 6-1 and 3-1.
“In all the games from here, the intensity goes up,” Cheaves said.
Andres Barragan finished a deep throw-in from Pepe Gardea for Dalton’s first goal. Ramiro Huitanda had a hat trick, scoring in the 13th, 17th and 20th minutes, while Alan Pantaleon, Eder Mora, Javier Rodriguez and Jose Espino each scored once.
“At the beginning I felt we couldn’t get a goal in,” Barragan said, noting the first goal “calmed” the team down. “It helps us play our game.”
Cedartown goalkeeper Chris Aviles made nine saves. Dalton’s goalkeepers, Raymundo Bahena and Chris Monroig, split time on the field but saw little action.
“Basically we tried to play a little more on our defense and beef up,” Bulldogs coach Matt Hayden said. “We knew they had some speed. If it was that easy they wouldn’t be 15-0 and we wouldn’t be where we were.”
• Northwest boys 10, Pickens 0: The Bruins (12-4) led 7-0 at halftime and scored the 10th goal in the 57th minute to end the game via mercy rule.
Giovanni Aguero had three goals and two assists, David Perez added two goals and as many assists and Bryan Villa scored twice. Christian Perez, Brandon Jiminez and Jonathan Marquez each had one goal, while Kevin San-tino, David Paz, Cielo Nunez, Damien Lara and David Franco each had one assist.
This is the second consecutive year Northwest has clinched a spot in the state playoffs.
“That is a great accomplishment,” said Bruins coach Ryan Scoggins, whose team travels to face River Ridge in Friday’s semifinals. “We talked about that before the match, for these seniors to make their second trip in a row. It’s a good thing to look toward each year.”
• Southeast boys 4, Cass 1: The Raiders led 2-1 early in the second half before Jorge Hurtado and Josue Quintero each scored to help clinch another trip to the state playoffs.
Southeast (8-3-1) led 2-0 at halftime after Hurtado scored on a penalty kick in the first half and Alex Rosillo scored off an assist from Erik Salaises. Alex Garcia added an assist.
The Raiders will play the Cats for the third time this season when they match up Friday.
“We’re sick of it,” Southeast coach Kevin Kettenring said of being on the losing end twice. “We’re tired of it. I think I speak on behalf of the boys. We’re getting tired of it. So we’re going to give it a go and bring our best.”
Goalkeeper Abel Mendiola left Tuesday’s win with a deep bruise around the knee, and Jaime Arenas finished in net for the Raiders. Rosillo also left the game in the second half with a pulled hamstring.
• Northwest girls 8, Cedartown 0: Juliana Gomez had four goals and Andrea Garcia added three as the Lady Bruins (9-2) rolled in an opening-round victory and clinched a state tournament berth for the first time in program history.
Ashlee Huyhn also scored for Northwest, which led 4-0 at halftime and outshot the Lady Bulldogs 26-5, while Daisy Flores had an assist. Gracie Holmes made two saves in the first half and Deysi Garcia stopped three shots in the second as they combined for the shutout.
The Lady Bruins will play at River Ridge on Friday in the region semifinals.
Northwest coach Anna Stutts, who’s in her fifth season as coach, said having upperclassmen who have played varsity since their freshman year has been a big help this season.
“And everybody always underestimates them,” Stutts said. “I’ve told them every game to come out with a chip on their shoulder, because no one thinks they’re good enough to be here, so they’ve got to prove it.”
• River Ridge girls 6, Dalton 5 (OT): The Lady Cats, the No. 4 seed from Sub-region 7B, took Sub-region 7A’s top seed to an extra frame before falling in Woodstock.
“It was a heck of a game,” said Dalton coach Tony Carlson. “It was beautifully played by both teams. No one likes losing, but I told the girls we are getting on this bus holding our heads up.”
Alondra Salaises and Deanna Marquez scored unassisted goals and Liz Cloud added a goal in the first half off a corner kick from Yanet Hernandez in the first half as the Lady Cats (5-6-1) took a 3-2 lead.
River Ridge scored two quick goals in the first 10 minutes of the second half, and Dalton tied the game 4-4 after Hernandez scored on a penalty kick after a handball in the box.
Salaises scored off another Hernandez corner kick to force overtime, but the Lady Knights scored in the first overtime period and made it stick to take the win and earn a berth in the Class 4A state playoffs.
Dalton had 15 shots on goal, while goalie Maria Medina had 11 saves.