For the first time since 2011, Southeast Whitfield High School’s boys soccer team had to travel for a state tournament game.
Unlike that game, the Raiders won this time.
Southeast’s 4-1 victory against host Chamblee in the opening round of the Class 4A bracket was seemingly never in doubt. The Raiders will travel to face Carrollton, a 7-0 winner against Stephens County in the first round, on Wednesday in the second round.
Southeast (10-4-1) finished third in Region 7 but had no trouble with Region 6’s runner-up. The Raiders’ Christian Saenz scored early on a Erik Salaises corner kick, and Victor Garcia converted a free kick from around 20 yards away for a 2-0 halftime lead.
“We had turf to deal with and a much bigger field than we’re used to,” Southeast coach Kevin Kettenring said. “It’s nice and wide with lots of space. It’s a very physical team, well coached with lots of discipline. The one thing they don’t have is a goalkeeper. That’s what all the scouting reports said: ‘Put some pressure on him because he is a field player.’”
The Raiders made it 3-0 around the 50th minute when Salaises assisted Jorge Hurtado. Chamblee scored its only goal in the 56th minute, and Southeast’s Alex Rosillo ended the scoring in the 73rd minute with a third assist from Salaises.
“Chamblee is a quality side; I can’t say that enough,” Kettenring said. “They play in a tough region, much like we do where we beat up on each other. I’m kind of glad to get away from playing the same old faces. ... It was a good match.”
The Raiders took 19 shots on goal. Southeast goalkeeper Abel Mendiola made 11 saves.
• Christian Heritage finished among the top 16 teams in the Georgia High School Association’s final power rankings for Class A private schools and will take on First Presbyterian Day School in the opening round of the tournament.
The Lions (12-11) will travel to Macon for the best-of-three series, which starts with a doubleheader at 4 p.m. Friday. If necessary, a third game would be played Saturday at a time to be determined. The Lions are seeded 13th for the tournament, while the Vikings (20-1) — who went 10-0 to win the Region 7-A title — are seeded fourth.
Christian Heritage is in its first season of GHSA competition but regularly made the playoffs in past seasons while competing in the Georgia Independent School Association. The baseball team is the school’s first program to make the state playoffs as a GHSA program.
It’s something to hang your hat on,” Lions coach Noah Stokes said. “Obviously, we want to make it mean something and keep winning, but it is one of those things we’ll look back on and always be proud that we were first.”
• Northwest Whitfield’s boys have learned they will advance straight to the state tournament, as will the rest of Class 4A’s boys golf teams who had expected to compete in a sectional tournament Monday at Waynesboro Country Club.
The state tournament is scheduled for May 20 at Dalton Golf & Country Club, where Northwest competed in the Region 7-4A tournament on April 22 and finished third. Dalton won the tournament and had already secured a spot in the state tournament as a region champion that met the state qualifying team score of 340. The Cats shot a 316.
The GHSA added sectional tournaments and qualifying scores for the first time this season to pare down the field from region to state, but sectional tournaments will not be necessary for some classifications because not enough teams both finished in the top four at region and met the qualifying scores to make a sectional tournament necessary.
That’s true for Class 2A girls, Class 3A boys and girls, and Class 5A girls in addition to Class 4A boys. In addition to Dalton and Northwest, Region 7 runner-up Heritage-Catoosa and fourth-place finisher LaFayette will be among the 15 teams in the Class 4A boys state tournament.
“We have been trying to push toward getting the best teams at state for quite a while now,” Northwest coach Jim McGrew said. “In the past you had teams that weren’t in state that were 60 or 70 strokes better than teams that were. Under the old rules, we wouldn’t have even had a chance. This is a lot fairer situation. Not having to go to sectionals and qualifying, it is just a bonus. Now our kids get the opportunity to play in a state tournament here.”
Northwest and Southeast will both still compete Monday in the Class 4A girls sectional tournament at Applewood Golf Course in Keysville.
North Murray’s girls won the Region 5-3A title with a qualifying score and so they will head directly to the Class 3A girls state tournament at Chateau Elan in Braselton. All state tournaments are on May 20.
Others from the area qualified for state via their respective region tournaments as the individual with the lowest round not on a state or sectional qualifying team.
For Murray County, Amber Lewis will compete in the Class 2A girls tournament at Hawks Point Golf Club in Vidalia, while Dylan Hubbard will play in the Class 2A boys tournament at Rocky Creek Golf Club, which is also in Vidalia. North Murray’s Colby Hipp will compete in the Class 3A boys tournament at Reunion Country Club in Hoschton.
• Dalton JV boys 188, Northwest 193: Northwest’s Tyler Linder was the medalist with a 6-over-par 42 in a nine-hole junior varsity match against the Catamounts, but Dalton had better balance to take the win at Dalton Golf & Country Club.
Scoring for the Cats were Jordan Keener (44), Davis Kirk (45), Addison Lambert (49) and Matthew Franey (50). In addition to Linder, the Bruins got scoring rounds from Alex Canady (48), Gavin Thompson (51) and Chip Brown (52).