The Dalton Catamounts controlled the action from the opening kick and beat Allatoona 4-0 in the GHSA Class AAAAA boys soccer title game Friday to win their third consecutive crown.
It was the fourth championship in program history for Dalton, which won the previous three in Class AAAA. The Catamounts are 64-0-1 in their past 65 games, outscoring their opponents 367-31 in the process. They conclude the 2015 season unbeaten and ranked No. 1 in the country by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and Maxpreps.
“It feels great,” Dalton head coach Matt Cheaves said. “I thought we controlled the match. Luckily, we got the early goal to kind of take the pressure off.”
Senior Kobe Perez opened the scoring 12 minutes in on a free kick from 21 yards out as his left-footed effort grazed off of the Allatoona wall and into the side netting.
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“I practice free kicks a lot, and when I saw him give me that space, I knew that I could bend it into the corner,” Perez said.
Sophomore Churrui Huitanda made it 2-0 six minutes later as Dalton settled for a two-goal advantage at the break after outshooting Allatoona 9-0.
The Buccaneers chose to play a highly defensive posture for the entire opening half, opting to utilize just a single forward in the formation and dropping 10 men behind the ball to defend.
“When teams sit back, it plays to our advantage because it gives us space to do what we do best, and that’s attack,” Perez said. “We like to move the ball around and when they give us the opportunity to do that, we just take advantage.”
Jose Espino’s goal made it 3-0 18 minutes into the second half, followed by Perez’s second goal of the match on a penalty kick to conclude the scoring.
Dalton’s shutout was its 13th in 20 matches. The last playoff opponent to score on the Catamounts was Sandy Creek in a first-round 11-1 decision during the 2014 title run.
“(Defense) really stepped up,” Perez said. “They know that they have to man mark and just keep pushing and pushing.”
The boys Class AA title game also featured a repeat winner as Greater Atlanta Christian rolled to a 4-1 win over rival Wesleyan.
The Spartans led 2-0 at the half and eventually 4-0. GAC beat Wesleyan in all three meetings between the two teams this season.