Coahulla Creek and Southeast Whitfield took different paths to win GHSA boys' soccer championships Thursday night.
Southeast Whitfield's Raiders captured their second Class AAAA title with a 4-0 win over East Hall at Duluth High School, dominating play from the outset on both ends of the pitch.
Meanwhile, at Mercer University in Macon, Coahulla Creek defeated nine-time champion Westminster, beating the Atlanta private school 3-1 in overtime to win the decade-old Whitfield County school's first championship in any sport.
Southeast, which finished 18-0-3, allowed only a handful of shots on goal by East Hall (15-4-1) while registering its 12th shutout of the season. The Raiders scored the only goal of the first half when Jerry Favela knocked home a header just more than 11 minutes into the game on a pass from Victor Garcia.
Garcia was at the heart of several Southeast attacks and registered his second assist in the second minute of the second half when he set up Lupe Beltran's goal. Nathaniel Villanueva made it 3-0 four minutes later on a laser from 15 yards, and Fernando Castadeda added the final goal late in the game as the Raiders celebrated another title four years after the first.
"This is something that's been a three-year process," Southeast coach Hector Holguin said. "The guys believed and never took anything for granted after the 2020 season was canceled. The class of 2021 wanted to win three state championships. We lost one in PKs in the final four, we lost the season to COVID last year, but this year they would not be denied.
"We met after the first week of the season, and the seniors made it a goal to win region, win state and go undefeated — and we did it all!"
Coahulla Creek and top-ranked Westminster were tied at 1 at halftime on goals from Renaldo Medina and Alex Lee, respectively. The Colts (17-2-2), however, faced adversity when Dems Noel was sent off with a red card seven minu4tes into the second half.
Coach Aurelio Jacobo's team was forced to play it safe on the offensive end and it paid off, despite several deep runs from Westminster star Edward Rendle. Coahulla Creek defender Anthony Mendiola and keeper Miguel Arredondo combined to stop multiple scoring opportunities by the Wildcats (14-3-4) in the second half, including a pair of breakaways by Rendle and Weyimi Agbeyegbe.
The extra work on defense sent the game into overtime, during which the GHSA plays two 10-minute periods. Halfway through the first session, the Colts received a penalty kick after a hard tackle in the scoring box, with season-leading scorer Jamie Mendiola beating Westminster keeper Conner Wesleman into the right side of the goal.
Manny Arredondo essentially put the title away with a goal right off the second overtime kickoff, sending a large collection of Colts supporters into celebration mode.
"The boys laid it all out there tonight," Jacobo said of surviving the man-down situation. "Their heart was in it, and they were not going to leave without the championship."
Dalton will try to give the area another GHSA title in boys' soccer — and the program's sixth overall — when the nationally No. 1-ranked Catamounts (19-0-2) face Johns Creek (16-2-1) in the Class AAAAAA final Friday night at McEachern High School in the Atlanta area.