February 14, 2014

Opening statements

Dalton boys win 23rd in a row, girls draw vs. Fort Payne

Dalton High School’s boys soccer team hasn’t lost a match in 21 months.

Fort Payne High is just another chalk mark on the pavement for the Catamounts.

Dalton won its first official match of the 2014 season Friday with a 5-1 domination of the Alabama school at the turf field on Dalton’s campus. The 2013 Class 4A state champs extended their winning streak to 23 consecutive matches, which doesn’t include a 2-0 scrimmage win last week versus Class 6A Lassiter.

The Catamounts scored in the 10th minute with forward Luis Becerra’s rebound shot off a deep throw-in. For the next 38 minutes, it was a lot of near-misses for Dalton’s attack, which tallied 27 shots to Fort Payne’s four.

“We had a lot of chances,” Dalton coach Matt Cheaves said. “It’s still very early and we’ll have all week next week to practice if we can get some decent weather.”

The last time the Catamounts lost a match was May 11, 2012, in the Class 3A quarterfinals versus Carrollton. Dalton went 22-0 a year ago and scored 134 times while only allowing eight goals. The Catamounts routinely dominated opponents — winning all but one game by at least a two-goal difference.

Fort Payne, also playing its first game of the season, learned what Dalton’s opponents went through a year ago. The Catamounts once threatened with three consecutive corner kicks around the 30th minute but couldn’t convert.

Ahead 1-0 at halftime, Dalton finally earned a two-goal lead with midfielder Kobe Perez’s goal off a corner kick in the 48th minute.

“After the first goal, we didn’t get many runs in to support (whoever had the ball),” midfielder Eder Mora said. “After that, we started getting more people in there and got more corner kicks. That’s how we got more chances to score.”

Javier Rodriguez, another forward, made it 3-0 with his goal in the 60th minute. Victor Solis, a midfielder, scored in the 66th minute on a corner kick from Mora. Isai Hernandez became the fifth different Catamount and third different midfielder to score when he converted forward Jose Espino’s cross in the 76th minute.

“If we score early goals, that takes the pressure off,” Cheaves said. “It took us a little longer. Hopefully, we’ll figure it out soon.”

Even Fort Payne’s lone highlight came thanks to the Catamounts’ ability to find the back of the net. Dalton allowed an own goal in the 78th minute to ruin a potential shutout.

Dalton girls 1, Fort Payne 1: The Lady Catamounts dominated the final 20 minutes but couldn’t break the draw and settled for a tie to begin their season.

After Fort Payne took a 1-0 lead midway through the first half with a breakaway, Angeles Altamirano beat her defender and found the net with a near-post shot to tie the game. Dalton took 11 shots on goal, while Fort Payne only took four.

“The best defense a team can have is controlling the ball on your opponent’s half,” Dalton coach Tony Carlson said. “We controlled it in their half. It was a physical game, in my opinion. We kept a clear head and made smart decisions.”

Alondra Salaises had a hard shot go straight to Fort Payne’s goalkeeper at the 70th minute. Six minutes later, a rebound from a corner kick went to Julia Ortiz, but her volley shot went a foot over the crossbar. Fort Payne’s offense never had a serious threat in the final 25 minutes.

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