SOUTHEAST WHITFIELD 1, DALTON 1 (4-2 PKs)
Halftime score: 0-0. Goals: Edgar Rodriguez (SEW); Ramiro Huitanda (D). Assists: Ale Rossilio (SEW); Juan Barrera (D). Shots: Southeast, 10-8. Saves: Abel Mendiola 2 (SEW); Raymundo Bahena 7 (D). Records: Southeast 8-0; Dalton 7-1.
DALTON, Ga. -- Edgar Rodriguez wasn't sure what to expect of his first Southeast Whitfield-Dalton soccer game, but it's a certainty he won't forget it.
The senior transfer from North Carolina scored with about five seconds left in regulation Friday night at Harmon Field to tie the game at 1, and the 8-0 and third-ranked Raiders went on to prevail in penalty kicks (4-2) against the 7-1 and second-ranked Catamounts.
Rodriguez's tying goal came off a long throw-in by Ale Rosillio just inside the midfield line. The wet ball went through the hands of Dalton keeper Raymundo Bahena and bounced right to the waiting Rodriguez, who quickly punched it in.
"I was just in the right spot to knock it in," Rodriguez said. "That was a great moment. Everybody just pushed up because we knew it was almost over. We had several chances earlier and we could have put one in on several occasions. This is the first time I've experienced this since this is my first year here, and it's crazy."
Dalton had taken a 1-0 lead 17:30 into the second half when Ramiro Huitanda scored after Juan Barrera's hard kick rebounded in front of Southeast keeper Abel Mendiola. The Cats staved off a handful of Raiders scoring chances in the final 10 minutes, including a Bahena save on a point-block shot of a loose ball.
The teams went scoreless in each five-minute overtime session, getting off just one shot each. Southeast, which already had won a game on PKs, stuck each of its four shots into the net by Erik Salaisis, George Hurtado, Christian Lopez and Alex Garcia, each choosing a different angle.
Southeast keeper Mendiola made a diving stop of Dalton's first PK by Huitanda, then sealed the win by knocking away Zach Keen's hard kick.
"We were fortunate enough to have already done PKs, so we knew what we were going to do and they performed incredibly," Southeast coach Jamison Griffin said after a memorable week in which his household grew by two.
"It's huge, especially with the week I've had," he said. "My wife gave birth to twins Monday and we had our second-biggest game of the season Tuesday, so it's been a rewarding but tough week. Going into this game we knew Dalton was a great team. and we have so much respect for their coaching staff."
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...