DULUTH, Ga. — Top-ranked Southeast Whitfield continued its offensive onslaught as they stormed past No. 4 East Hall, 4-0, in the Class 4A boys soccer state championship game on Thursday at Wildcat Stadium.
The Raiders (17-0-3) had scored 23 goals through the first four rounds of the state playoffs while giving up only one goal coming into the title bout. The state powerhouse piled on to those impressive stats against the Vikings (15-5-1), ending the Class 4A playoffs scoring 27 goals while allowing just one.
Perhaps it was state title game jitters or two teams just trying to figure out each other early on. Whatever it was, two of the state's top soccer programs played kickball for the opening 15 minutes of the first half.
"I think we were trying to measure each other," East Hall Head Coach Mark Wade said. "We were both trying to be fairly direct to test each other’s backs, and it’s pretty common in big games for that to happen. You don’t want to make a silly turnover on your half and give something away so you try to play more direct early. As the game settles down, you start trying to possess the ball a little more."
Southeast Whitfield did settle down and used its speed and quickness to wear down the Vikings, and Lupe Beltran cracked the egg on the board when he headed in the Raiders' first goal 12 minutes into the game.
"Once the game settled down, they just started wearing us down a little bit," Wade said.
Although the Raiders scored first, the Vikings' defense bent but didn't break, fighting off several shots toward their goal with only one landing in the net with 14:40 left. That goal, however, was flagged for offsides.
East Hall's Averen Samuels, who had scored the Vikings' last four goals, had what appeared to be a goal later in the half, but the official flagged him offsides as the ball hit the back of the net. Samuels also had another shot on goal that ricocheted off the goal post late in the second half.
"He almost had one but was just a hair offside," Wade said. "He hit the post late in the game, but he was still around the ball and still did what he needed to do."
In the second half, Southeast Whitfield was up and down the field, scattering shots toward the goal all half, three of which, blew past the Viking defense.
The Raiders opened the second half with a quick goal within the first half-minute on a Nathaniel Villanueva goal. Joel Fraire added the third goal from the left side of the box with 34:57 remaining. Fernando Castaneda put the icing on the cake with a shot from the top of the box as East Hall goalkeeper Walter Bran came out to defend with 20:06 left.
"They did everything right," Wade said. "They are really good in the air and very quick to get up in the attack. We knew coming in that we would have to defend pretty tough all night."