DALTON, Ga. — Dalton High School soccer coach Matt Cheaves admitted that he didn’t watch Southeast Whitfield’s final two shots of their shootout Monday night.
Had Catamounts goalkeeper Tony Olvera known that, he might have told his coach to look away for all five attempts.
After watching the previous attempt sail high, Olvera stopped the final shot by Southeast, and then Rene Real scored the deciding penalty kick as the Catamounts defeated the Raiders 4-3 in the shootout portion before a large crowd at Harmon Field at Dalton. The game ended in a 1-all tie, but Georgia rules don’t allow teams from the same classification to end in ties.
“Until the last few years, I had never been on a team coaching or playing that won in a shootout,” Cheaves said.
“My junior and senior seasons ended on shootouts, so I got to the point where I couldn’t look anymore and quit watching tonight.”
Olvera got his hands on Southeast’s first two penalty tries but was slightly late as Sammy Torres and Noel Pimentel scored. An Eric Salises shot gave the Raiders a 3-1 edge, but their final two shots failed.
After a missed first shot, Juan Barrera, Rafael Esparza, Ryan Czyz and Real scored for Dalton.
The match, although meaningless as far as region or postseason standing, had pride written all over it, and that showed on the field in the play. Numerous yellow cards were handed out and Southeast’s Zeke Nunez received a double yellow, or red and automatic ejection.
Real scored Dalton’s goal, ripping a shot off the shoulder of Southeast keeper Abel Mendiola for a 1-0 edge in the 30th minute.
Southeast tied the game when Dalton had an own goal in the second half.
“You have to give credit to the best team on the field tonight, and that was Dalton,” Southeast coach Jamison Griffin said. “I thought the game was fairly even, but we didn’t play our game plan.”
The Dalton loss is the Raiders’ lone blemish on the season, as they fell to 16-1, 10-1 in Region 7-AAA. The Catamounts improved to 13-2-2 and evened things with a 10-1 mark in the district, although the Raiders will hold the top seed going into the playoffs.
“I thought this was a good lift for us,” Cheaves said. “Nothing else but pride was on the line, but I thought we played a quality match in a playoff-type atmosphere.”
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him on Twitter.com/gh3sports.