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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Southeast Whitfield forward Nathaniel Villanueva (19) works around a Jefferson defender in the early stages of the Raiders' 4-1 win in Tuesday's GHSA Class AAAA soccer semifinal game in Dalton. Southeast is one of three Whitfield County schools who will play for championships later this week.

Three Whitfield County Georgia boys' soccer teams are one step away from winning state championships after a dominant showing in the GHSA semifinal round Tuesday.

Dalton, Southeast Whitfield and Coahulla Creek each had convincing wins and will await word of their game date and time in the title round, which is slated to run from Thursday to Saturday at four neutral sites across the state. The GHSA will release the schedule sometime Wednesday.

A fourth area team, Gordon Central, fell 3-0 to Pace Academy in Class AA to end the Warriors' season at 16-2.

* In Class AAAAAA, the Catamounts, winners of five GHSA championships, scored three consecutive goals in the first 21 minutes of the second half to break open what was a 1-1 halftime tie to defeat Lakeside-Dekalb, 5-2. Filemon Quinetero scored the go-ahead goal seven minutes into the second half, with Ivan Ceja following with a goal just over six minutes later and Damian Saldana making it 4-1 with 13:38 remaining to essentially seal the win.

Quintero, after Lakeside made it 4-2, added an insurance goal with just over five minutes remaining. Dalton's Yahir Perez scored the game's first goal before the visitors tied it with 22 seconds left in the first half.

"The heart our team came out with in the second half was the difference," Dalton coach Matt Cheaves said. "Lakeside scoring with 20 seconds to go in the first half was big momentum for them, and for us to rebound from that was huge."

The top-ranked Catamounts (19-0-2) will face John's Creek, a 1-0 winner over North Atlanta Tuesday, in the championship.

* In Class AAAA, Southeast and Jefferson were tied at 1 at the half before the Raiders used their suffocating defense and quick-strike ability to pull away for a 4-1 win on goals from Lupe Beltran (nine minutes into the second half), Julian Hernandez and Diego Castillo.

"I loved how we pressed them the whole 80 minutes," said Southeast coach Hector Holguin, whose team had allowed 11 goals coming into the game. "Our defense has been amazing in the playoffs. We hadn't allowed a shot on frame before tonight and they got one off a corner kick and scored."

The Raiders (17-0-3), the classification's top-ranked team, will battle East Hall in the title game. The Gainesville program edged Islands 1-0 in the semifinals Tuesday.

* In Class AAA, Coahulla Creek scored three unanswered goals to end the first half for a 4-1 lead, leading to a 6-1 win over Greater Atlanta Christian School. Manny Arredondo and Jamie Mendiola scored two goals each for the Colts, the two scoring a few minutes apart after GAC took a 1-0 lead. Ronaldo Medina made it 3-1 before Arredondo scored for the three-goal halftime lead.

Coahulla Creek (16-2-2) will face Westminster, a 3-0 winner over Oconee County, in the title game. The teams also played for the 2019 championship, with Westminster winning its third consecutive title.

 

BASEBALL

* Silverdale Baptist 4, King's Academy 3: The Seahawks built a four-run lead through five innings in which Turner Junkins delivered shutout baseball and struck out four. Junkins starred at the plate as well going 2-for-2 with an RBI, while Bryson Cline delivered the Seahawks's second run in the first with an RBI single. Eric Boggess closed out the victory with a strikeout leaving two runners stranded for the Division II-A East Region playoff victory.

* Hixson 8, Central 6: Trailing 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh, the Wildcats rallied and won on a walk-off, three-run home run by Kane Johnson with two outs. Johnson delivered the blow after Manny Velazquez and AJ Wild each reached after getting hit by pitches. Johnson homered twice and doubled to drive in seven runs while also picking up the win, striking out four over three innings of one-run relief to advance Hixson into the District 6-AA championship game today.

 

SOFTBALL

* Walker Valley 9, McMinn County 0: Slugger Sierra Brown hit two home runs while Grace Martin added another roundtripper to back ace Hailey Leslie who allowed three hits in a complete game District 5-AAA tournament shutout.

 

TENNIS

Signal Mountain won the Region 3 Small championship with a 9-0 victory over Meigs County, advancing the Eagles to the sectional round next week. Nathan Morris, Austin Hensley and Payne Hurst did not let up a point in their singles victories, while Ryan Griggs and Hensley dominated in doubles for a 6-0, 6-1 victory.

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