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May 5, 2013

Southeast Whitfield soccer joins local rivals in semifinals

Southeast Whitfield didn’t want to be left out of the local party that the Georgia High School Association’s Class 4A boys state soccer semifinals have become.

The Raiders will join Dalton and Northwest Whitfield as three of the final four teams remaining after beating Dutchtown 2-0 on the road in Saturday’s state quarterfinals in Hampton. Dalton advanced with a 10-0 win over Jonesboro on Saturday, while Northwest beat Mary Persons 5-1 Friday night in Forsyth.

Southeast (12-4-1) will face Whitfield County Schools rival Northwest on Wednesday in the semifinals in Tunnel Hill. Dalton will play host to the winner of Saturday night’s quarterfinal game between Spalding and Alexander at Harmon Field.

Either way, at least one school located in Whitfield County is guaranteed of playing in Friday night’s state championship game at 7:30 p.m. at Kennesaw State University.

“We didn’t want to be the only team left out,” said Southeast’s Jonathan Sanchez, who scored the second goal in the 30th minute. “Having three of the four teams from the same county is pretty awesome. I would doubt that has ever happened before.”

And Sanchez had a message for his rivals.

“It’s bear season, and we are coming for them.”

Southeast and Northwest played twice during the regular season with the Raiders winning at Tunnel Hill 4-1 and Northwest winning on Southeast’s home field 2-0.

Against Dutchtown, Erik Solaises opened the scoring 22 minutes into the game off of an assist from Diego Nunez, and Sanchez scored off of a throw-in by Ramiro Guerrero. After that, the Raiders switched to defensive mode, and played that pretty well as goalie Abel Mendiola had to make only six saves.

“They played hard and kept the ball away from Dutchtown,” said Southeast’s Michael Herndon, who was with the team in the absence of coach Kevin Kettenring. Kettenring was unable to attend the contest. “They put two goals on them and then just kept the lead. Dalton finished before we took the field, and the kids knew they had won. That was a pretty bog motivator for us. They knew and they definitely wanted to be that third team in the final four.”

Sanchez said his team is ready for the next step.

“We are going to play 110 percent and give it all we have and get a victory,” Sanchez said. “We are a lot better now than we were earlier in the season because we are playing with heart and intensity, and we have put in a lot of hard work and dedication.”

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