March 7, 2014

Catamounts remain in control

Dalton defense strong in win over Raiders

Dalton High School’s boys soccer team defended its winning streak and No. 1 ranking while earning county bragging rights again by defending for 80 minutes.

Facing its toughest challenge of the young season, Dalton scored once in each half and shut out Southeast Whitfield for a 2-0 victory Friday at Harmon Field in a repeat of last season’s Class 4A state championship.

With the win, Dalton (5-0, 3-0 Sub-region 7B-4A) has won 27 straight matches dating to the beginning of last season. That impressive tally coincides with the top ranking in Eurosportscoreboard.com’s Class 4A coaches poll, which had Southeast (4-1, 3-1) ranked second entering Friday’s clash.

“It’s a nice streak,” Dalton coach Matt Cheaves said, “but we’re not keeping up with it.”

The Raiders had their share of chances. They had 15 set plays from either corner kicks, deep throw-ins or free kicks with the ball lobbed in front of the goal and a pack of attackers fighting to direct it toward the net with a header.

Dalton’s defenders kept winning those battles, sending the ball away from harm.

“We didn’t take advantage of the chances we had,” Southeast coach Kevin Kettenring said. “We had a couple throw-ins over the bar, a couple corners that weren’t there and a couple free kicks where we didn’t attack the defense like we should have. That’s regrettable.”

Southeast scored all four of its goals in last Friday’s win versus Northwest Whitfield from set plays. Dalton seems to know how to stop that offense.

“We talk about it,” Cheaves said. “We work on it. That’s all I want to say about that.”

Southeast goalkeeper Ivan Ortiz held Dalton scoreless through two near goals in the first 19 minutes. Javier Rodriguez’s shot in the 12th minute was tipped to safety by Ortiz and Pepe Gardea’s header from a deep throw-in also was blocked by the keeper.

In the 19th minute, Dalton benefited from Jesus Huitanda earning a penalty kick for the Catamounts after a Southeast defender tackled him from behind. Kobe Perez made the most of it and put Dalton ahead 1-0.

“I thought it put us on our heels,” Cheaves said. “I thought once we scored, we thought, ‘OK, let’s hang back for a while.’ That’s not how we want to play.”

Southeast had its best chance yet three minutes later when a deep throw-in went untouched into the Dalton goal. Only problem is a player must touch the ball for it to count, and instead it netted a goal kick instead of a tie game.

Dalton didn’t take long in the second half to add breathing room. Justen Macias’ header from a deep throw-in made it 2-0 in the 51st minute. From there, Dalton’s efforts went to keeping the shutout intact. Victor Garcia’s shot in the 75th minute was too high and wide — not the same description as the Raiders’ other opportunities, but the same result.

“For the finish of the first half, I thought we had our chances,” Kettenring said. “In the second half, again, I thought we had our chances. I thought we had a couple shots.”

Dalton took six shots on goal, while Southeast took three. Ortiz made four saves, and Samuel Fraire made two saves.

Dalton girls 1, Southeast 0: The Lady Catamounts (4-1-1, 2-1) had a bevy of chances to get a second goal, but they only needed one to earn the same result against the Lady Raiders (1-4, 0-4)

Deanna Marquez converted a corner kick in the 45th minute to give Dalton its only conversion despite taking 16 shots in the game.

“I would’ve liked to have an insurance goal,” Dalton coach Tony Carlson said, “but I’ll take the one.”

In the 52nd minute, Patricia Hernandez had an open net but her shot went above the crossbar. That preceded two saves in a 10-minute span from Southeast goalkeeper Sydney Covington, who made three big saves to keep the first half scoreless.

Covington, who played goalkeeper last year but hasn’t been in net previously this season, was a late switch to the position after Melisa Fraire was injured.

“We told her yesterday we were throwing her in at goal,” Southeast coach Mark Parsons said. “I’m very proud of her. She took a lot of shots on goal.”

Dalton controlled the second half, taking 11 shots to Southeast’s zero. In the first half, Dalton took five shots and Southeast took two. Covington finished with 10 saves while Alex Brumbelow made two for the Lady Catamounts.

“It was a different game in the second half,” Carlson said. “It was sloppy and I told them to settle down. ... They did a lot better in the second half cleaning up passes.”

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