No goal in the waning seconds. No penalty kicks.
Just Dalton High School’s boys reasserting themselves atop the area’s fiercest soccer rivalry.
The Catamounts scored twice in the second half and won 3-1 Friday night in Sub-region 7B-4A action at Southeast Whitfield, beating a Raiders squad trying to win its third straight region championship.
Ranked No. 2 in eurosportscoreboard.com’s Class 4A coaches poll, Dalton (6-0, 4-0 Sub-region 7B-4A) had a mission to avenge two defeats suffered last season at the hands of Southeast (1-1, 1-1). At Harmon Field, Edgar Rodriguez’s goal tied the game 1-1 with just seconds left, and the Raiders won on penalty kicks. In the rematch, Southeast won again on penalty kicks.
“Last year was an absolute heartbreaker for them to score in the final 10 seconds, and they beat us on penalty kicks,” Dalton coach Matt Cheaves said. “This year is different.”
With the score tied at 1 in the 59th minute Friday, Dalton’s Ryan Czyz volleyed a deflection into the narrowest of gaps between goalkeeper Abel Mendiola and the near post.
“You could see they had played ... five games,” said Raiders coach Kevin Kettenring, whose squad is ranked fourth in 4A. “We had just played one. Breakdowns, restarts, reacting. That’s all stuff you get from multiple games.”
In the 70th minute, Eder Mora curved his corner kick around the post and just past Mendiola to give Dalton a 3-1 lead. Cheaves said it was a play the Cats have practiced.
“The boys saw the situation, did it and it went into the net,” Cheaves said. “The goalkeeper did a good job getting to it, but it still went into the net.”
In the final 10 minutes, Southeast tried to reinvent some of last season’s magic, but junior sweeper Salv-ador Rodriguez and goalkeeper Raymundo Bahena kept the Raiders from finding the back of the net.
“It feels really good to win this,” said Rodriguez, who played much of Friday’s game with a hamstring injury. “It’s revenge to get our pride back.”
Dalton struck first in the 13th minute when Mendiola couldn’t make a clean save and Alan Pantaleon scored on the rebound. Southeast responded eight minutes later off Jorge Hurtado’s header from a throw-in. It was the first goal Dalton has allowed this season.
“There’s still a lot of soccer left in this soccer season,” Cheaves said. “We’ll see them again later this season, could see them again in the region tournament and could play them again in state. ... It’s a possibility of us crossing paths several more times.”
In Region 7-4A’s format, all teams play the other five in their sub-region one time. Then the top four from each go to a region tournament. The result gives Dalton an edge on Southeast in the sub-region race, just a footnote for each program’s goals considering past accomplishments — Southeast has made the state tournament 11 straight seasons and Dalton 12 straight.
“It’s a tough atmosphere to play in,” Kettenring said. “You’ve got two high-level teams and they know each other and are family, and it’s just tough to jump into that.”
Mendiola and Bahena each made six saves. Dalton attempted 16 shots while Southeast had 12.
• Dalton girls 2, Southeast 1: An unkind post for the Lady Raiders (1-1, 1-1 Sub-region 7B-4A) preserved another one-goal win for the Lady Cats (3-3, 2-2).
Last season, the Lady Cats won 1-0 in both meetings with the Lady Raiders. The first game went to overtime and Dalton scored in the final 10 minutes of the second matchup.
On Friday, Lizz Cloud scored in the 68th minute off an assist from Rocio Carrizales and gave Dalton a 2-1 lead, and Diana Paramo’s tying attempt for the Lady Raiders in the 79th minute hit the crossbar.
“I think we did better maintaining possession, which made them sit back and play defense,” Dalton coach Tony Carlson said. ‘Then we sweated that one off the bar. That just about took us to overtime.”
The Lady Cats held a 1-0 halftime lead after Lupita Vidana’s header in the 38th minute went in, but the Lady Raiders played their best soccer in the second half's first 10 minutes. Alejandra Lerma’s header got past goalkeeper Alex Brumbelow to tie the game in the 42nd minute, and Southeast had two more attempts that ended in shots missing the target.
“We went in at halftime and told them to go back to how we started the ball game,” Lady Raiders coach Amanda Ramfjord said. “Then when we don’t score, we get down on ourselves.”