April 18, 2014

On to the title match

Raiders soccer tops Bruins, face Dalton next

With around 15 minutes left in Thursday’s Region 7-4A semifinals match, Northwest Whitfield High School’s boys soccer team increased pressure on Southeast Whitfield with hopes of a tying goal.

But the host Raiders were the ones getting the late goal.

Victor Garcia’s 30-yard laser in the 74th minute hit the net untouched and Southeast’s defense played a near-spotless match to win 3-1 and advance to Tuesday’s region championship match against undefeated Dalton. Southeast, Dalton and Northwest are all qualified for the state tournament, but the all-important seeding and earning the right to host was at stake for the sides.

With the score tied 1-1, Garcia and the Raiders (11-4-2) earned a throw-in deep in their opponents’ territory. Garcia’s lob sailed in front of the Northwest goal, and Jonathan Sanchez’s flick pushed the ball past Northwest goalkeeper Manuel Zapata for a 2-1 lead in the 63rd minute.

“We put them on their heels a little bit,” Southeast coach Kevin Kettenring said. “But they are a quality side with a lot of weapons. It’s a defensive chess match in a way.”

Around three minutes later, after going the entire second half without a shot, Northwest (6-7-3) moved into desperation mode. A few crosses were headed clear by Southeast’s defense, led by sweeper Isael Gutierrez, and a free kick from 35 yards away in the 75th minute proved to be the best chance. Southeast tried an offside trap where the entire back line runs forward to catch the opposing players in an offsides violation, but the referees didn’t call it. Northwest had a chance, but a game-saving tackle prohibited the shot.

“I felt like we built chances,” Northwest coach Ryan Scoggins said, “but their defense really stepped up, and they have great defenders. We just couldn’t crack it.”

A minute later, Garcia found enough space to put the match out of the Bruins’ reach.

Northwest now aims for the region’s No. 3 seed for the state playoffs with a match Tuesday at Cedartown. Southeast finished third in region a year ago but reached the state tournament playing all road matches in the state tournament.

“I’m going to stay really positive with these guys,” Scoggins said. “They’re a young team. That’s what I need to do — stay positive.”

Southeast, which avenged a 1-0 loss at home March 20 to Northwest and a 2-0 loss last year at home to the Bruins, now will try to end Dalton’s soccer dominance of the Raiders. The Catamounts have won six straight against the Raiders dating back to the start of last season.

Winning at home against Northwest means a lot to Southeast.

“They had a little bit of a streak here,” Kettenring said. “We talked about that. We wanted to beat them here.”

Southeast scored first in the 30th minute after Diego Nunez’s shot squeezed through outstretched legs and arms. Nunez earned the corner after he beat a Northwest defender off the dribble and his cross was deflected out of play.

But Southeast’s defense seemed ready to withstand Northwest’s best. The final 20 minutes included a lot of possession for the Bruins, who scored their lone goal in the 38th minute. Southeast turned possession over deep in its territory, and Bryan Villa’s shot slid through goalkeeper Ivan Ortiz’s hands and into the net. While Northwest played with a sense of urgency at the end of each half — and finished with 10 shots to Southeast’s 12 — that was the Bruins’ most threatening opportunity. Zapata, a freshman playing for the injured Jose Marquez, and Ortiz matched one another with four saves each.

Dalton boys 10, Cedartown 0: The top-ranked Catamounts continued their dominance with a game halted after 48 minutes of play by the mercy rule in the other Region 7-4A semifinal contest.

Jesus Huitanda had a pair of goals as nine different players scored for Dalton, and the Catamounts outshot the Bulldogs 20-1. Other goal scorers for Dalton (16-0-1) were Jose Estino, Jose Gardea, Edgar Hernandez, Justin Macias, Eder Mora, Kobe Perez, Josh Satterfield and Victor Solis. Javier Rodriguez and Mora each had three assists with other assists coming from Hernan Saldana (two), Gardea and Kiki Rodriguez

River Ridge girls 5, Northwest 2: The Lady Bruins took a 1-0 lead in the first two minutes of their Region 7-4A semifinal in Woodstock, but the Lady Knights tied the match within the first five minutes and were up 4-1 by halftime en route to the victory.

Ashlee Huynh scored both goals for Northwest (11-3), with assists by Vanessa Lara and Nancy Paz, and Gracie Holmes recorded eight saves in goal. River Ridge outshot the Lady Bruins 21-10.

Coahulla Creek boys 2, Ringgold 0: Jo-An Barcenas and Eddie Serrato scored for the Colts (11-3-1, 10-3 Region 5-3A), while Adrian Rodriguez earned an assist after setting up Barcenas.

Missael Fraire made six saves in goal to earn the shutout for the Colts, who led 1-0 at halftime and played down a portion of the match after sophomore right halfback Baley Jones drew a red card. Coahulla Creek coach Eric Parker said Jones was ejected after be bumped the shoulder of a Ringgold player who was trying to score.

Parker said he didn’t know if Jones would miss only the next match or the next two matches. The length of the suspension depends on whether the official considers the violation a dangerous play, Parker said.

Numbers eventually drew even for both sides after a Ringgold player received a red card.

Ringgold girls 4, Coahulla Creek 1: The Lady Colts saw their postseason hopes fade as the Lady Tigers took a key Region 5-3A victory.

Coming into the game, Coahulla Creek (5-10, 5-8 Region 5-3A) had to win its final two regular-season games to remain in a tie for fourth place in the region standings to have a shot at taking one of the region’s four playoff slots.

Ringgold scored first and Coahulla Creek responded as Hannah Grant assisted Regina Pacheco on a goal midway through the first half. But the Lady Tigers scored twice to end the half and tacked on another goal in the second for the margin of victory.

Calhoun girls 7, Murray County 0: Calhoun remained perfect in Region 7-2A play, while the Lady Indians fell to 6-10-1 overall and 6-9 in the region.

Calhoun boys 6, Murray County 0: The Indians fell to 12-4 overall and 12-3 in Region 7-2A.

North Murray boys 3, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 2: After a 1-1 halftime score, Neto Rodriguez assisted Raul Rodriguez for a 2-1 lead for the visiting Mountaineers (11-1, 10-1 Region 5-3A), and Jacob Dotson assisted Aaron Mandez for the winning score. Victor Iturbero also scored for North Murray, which is first in the region.

LFO girls 1, North Murray 0 (OT): Amber Bandy had 12 saves in goal for North Murray (2-8-1, 2-8 Region 5-3A), and neither team could generate much offense as the Lady Warriors finally scored in the extra period.

Whitefield Academy girls 6, Christian Heritage 0: The Lady Lions lost on the road in Mableton.

Whitefield Academy boys 3, Christ-ian Heritage 0: The Lions remain winless at 0-11 overall and 0-9 in Region 6-A.

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