May 6, 2014

Catamounts get test but remain unbeaten in soccer

Based on shots on goal, Dalton High School’s boys soccer team had enough chances to get two mercy-rule victories against Lanier in Tuesday’s Class 4A state tournament match at Harmon Field.

In the end, the Catamounts would have only needed one score — but getting that took a little longer than usual for the dominant defending state champions.

Josh Satterfield’s 39th-minute goal ended a scoreless deadlock in the second-round contest, and the Cats went on to win 3-0 and set up a quarterfinals match Friday at Harmon Field against Perry.

Dalton (19-0-1), the Region 7-4A champion, lengthened its unbeaten streak to 42 matches with the shutout of Lanier (10-7-2), the No. 3 seed from Region 8.

The Catamounts spent much of Tuesday’s first half threatening to score but didn’t until just before halftime. With time running out, the Cats built up an attack along the right side, but Lanier goalkeeper Amaury Ramos deflected the resulting shot. A rebound header was tipped back by Ramos, though, and Satterfield’s ensuing header sailed just over Ramos’ outstretched fingers and across the line for a 1-0 lead.

“That goal brought our momentum,” said Dalton’s Isai Hernandez, whose 66th-minute goal — a laser from the left side to the near post — was the last of the match.

“If it had gone 0-0 (to halftime), it’d be a lot different. That goal helped us be more positive (at halftime).”

Dalton, the top-ranked team in euro-sportscoreboard.com’s Class 4A poll, has outscored opponents 115-12 this season, winning seven matches by the Georgia High School Association’s 10-goal-lead mercy rule. But the Catamounts led just 1-0 at halftime Tuesday despite taking 11 shots on goal in the first 40 minutes.

Dalton coach Matt Cheaves was pleased with his team’s overall effort but admitted the Cats didn’t play their best match.

“We were fundamentally sloppy at times. ... We gave away possession a lot with unforced errors,” Cheaves said. “There were several instances where we had chances to follow the plan and go through what we do, and the boys chose to do something else. It resulted in giving the ball away.”

Dalton’s second score came in the 53rd minute, when Eder Mora’s corner kick found Pepe Gardea for a back-post header.

The Cats outshot Lanier 21-4, and the Longhorns spent much of the match defending, hoping for counterattacks and trying to make the most of the few opportunities available. Lanier had the first shot of the match, in the 10th minute, but Dalton goalkeeper Samuel Fraire made his only save of the match to keep it scoreless.

With Dalton up 1-0, Lanier’s Justin Soto had a clear chance from 15 yards away that sailed over the crossbar in the 59th minute.

“Our approach was to lock up the midfield and defend,” Lanier coach John Shaefer said, “and then try and beat them with a transition. ... That last-minute goal (in the first half) was an emotional killer and tough to overcome. We came out flat in the second half and after (the second goal), the guys felt they wouldn’t get to two goals and were trying to hang on.”

Dalton had quite a few chances left on the field in the first half. Kobe Perez’s shot in the 18th minute sailed above the crossbar, and Javier Rodriguez’s shot on a breakaway ended with one of Ramos’ 10 saves in the match.

Cheaves said he hopes this match, especially the first half, will be “a wake-up call” for the Catamounts moving forward.

“None of the boys are satisfied with this win,” Cheaves said. “We’re glad we won and we played well enough to win, but we’re not satisfied because this wasn’t our best effort.”

Region 2 champion Perry (16-3), which lost in the second round of last year’s state tournament, beat Worth County 2-1 on Tuesday to earn a shot at Dalton in Friday’s quarterfinals.

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