May 3, 2014

State soccer roundup: Southeast moves on, Bruins fall

Southeast Whitfield’s boys soccer team spent much of Saturday’s Class 4A first round state playoff match as the attacking side. Yet, Columbus’ defense did all it could to stay alive.

It still wasn’t enough for the Blue Devils as even nine guys back on defense couldn’t stop Jonathan Sanchez from securing another state playoff win for the Raiders.

Sanchez’s volley in the 69th minute gave Southeast the two-goal cushion it needed to go up 3-1, a score that held to the final buzzer at Raider Stadium. Southeast advances to the postseason’s second round and will host Lumpkin County at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

In Saturday’s other state playoff game involving a local team, Northwest Whitfield saw its season come to an end after a 1-0 loss on the road at Carrollton.

The No. 3 seed from Region 5, Columbus (14-3-2) exerted almost all of its resources defending Southeast’s attack. The Raiders (12-5-2), Region 7’s No. 2 seed, built their offense through the outside for much of the match. This resulted in numerous throw-ins, corner kicks or crosses into the box, and the Blue Devils defended most with nine guys, not including goalkeeper Cory Aycock.

“They had everyone back on defense,” Sanchez said. “Once we scored, they kept more guys back.”

That approach didn’t stop Southeast’s first goal — a Victor Garcia throw-in deflected off Aycock’s hands and into the net in the sixth minute. It also didn’t stop the third goal, with the Raiders holding a 2-1 lead and desperate to put the match away.

After a shot and deflection from one of 12 deep throw-ins for South-east, Axl Arrendondo perfectly headed a pass to Sanchez, who volleyed home a strike inside the far post. The score came after Columbus’ best offensive stretch, which netted a 62nd-minute score from Tristan Shytle to cut Southeast’s lead to 2-1.

“It was just that 10- to 15-minute stretch where we let them control the pace,” coach Kevin Kettenring said. “They scored, and for us, it was, ‘OK, how will we respond?’”

Southeast, the classification’s state runner-up last season to champion Dalton, has won 13 state playoff matches since the 2010 season and took 16 shots on Saturday. Col-umbus, which lost 2-1 to Johnson-Gainesville in last year’s state playoffs, took seven.

“We knew they had the throw-in and we prepared for it,” Columbus coach Tom Perry said. “That was something we tried being ready for, but you never are truly ready until you see it.”

Columbus nearly took a 1-0 lead in the third minute, but Shytle’s shot went wide of the left post. Three minutes later, Garcia’s score put Southeast ahead. Just two minutes after that, Ramiro Guerrero beat two Columbus defenders and found the net for a 2-0 lead.

“I loved the start,” Kettenring said. “That was critical. That’s been our thing, getting a good start, so that was critical.”

The Raiders had chances to push ahead 3-0 in the first half, but Aycock made a diving save on Arrendondo’s top-corner shot in the 33rd minute and a header off a corner kick sailed six inches above the crossbar in the 35th minute.

Southeast goalkeeper Ivan Ortiz made three saves, and Aycock helped Columbus with four.

n Carrollton 1, Northwest 0: The Bruins’ season ended in the Class 4A first round — the earliest of the past three seasons — thanks to an unlucky bounce and in the closing minutes.

A free kick for Carrollton, the Region 5 No. 2 seed, around the 70th minute resulted in a deflection high into the air. Northwest goalkeeper Manuel Zapata couldn’t collect the ball and was knocked down, Bruins coach Ryan Scoggins said, and the ball bounced off a Columbus player and into the net.

“It was an evenly-played match as far as possession,” Scoggins added. “We may have had it more than them but it was 55-45 (percent), maybe 60-40 at the most. They had a couple threatening shots but Manuel made good saves. The goal they scored was just a freak play, an unlucky break.”

Northwest (7-8-3) had two threatening chances in the final 10 minutes for an equalizer.

“Their keeper saved one,” Scog-gins said, “and we had a good header on the back post that scraped the outside.”

The Bruins, the No. 3 seed from Region 7, outshot their opponents 15-10. Zapata made four saves.

Northwest only had three seniors — Kevin Centeno, David Franco and Miguel Villa — one year after reaching the state semifinals

“I feel like we were playing at a high level,” Scoggins said. “I just feel bad because we have three seniors this year and they’re an awesome group.”

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