A couple of early goals set the tone for the Chestatee boys soccer team in its first-round playoff match against Gilmer, as the War Eagles rolled to a 10-0 victory Friday night in Gainesville.
With the win, Chestatee will move on to play against Oconee County on Thursday in Gainesville.
“We had a lot of guys get in on the attack, a lot of guys scoring goals and doing some good things on the attacking half of the field,” War Eagles coach Michael Herrin said. “We’re excited. This is a big statement for us.”
Uriel Rocha led the way offensively for Chestatee putting in four goals over the course of the match, but it was Johnny Torres-Cruz who injected the first burst of energy into the War Eagle attack.
Torres-Cruz broke away in the third minute of the match and chipped the keeper from distance to put Chestatee on top. He headed in another goal off a corner served in from Logan Knotts four minutes later to give the War Eagles a 2-0 advantage, less than 10 minutes into the game.
“We need to come out quickly and not let the other team dictate play,” Herrin said. “When we play our soccer, and we dictate the style and the tempo of the game, we have better results. So that was very important. We’ve worked on that all week.”
Chestatee’s other offensive players quickly followed Torres-Cruz’s lead, with Juan Carlos Venegas scoring in the 12th minute and Fernando Villa blasting a shot into the top left corner from outside of the box in the 16th to put the War Eagles on top 4-0, less than halfway through the opening half of the game.
After a brief scoring drought, Rocha headed in his first goal of the match off a free kick from Venegas right before halftime, giving a brief glimpse of what was to come after the break.
Rocha scored again off a header — this one served in from a Miguel Garcia corner kick — at the midpoint of the second half. Garcia got on the score sheet himself later in the game when Venegas connected with him on a perfect cross over the Gilmer goalkeeper making for an easy finish to go up 7-0.
Rocha completed his hat trick with five minutes left in the game off a service from Knotts in front of the net, but he wasn’t done there. In the 77th minute, Venegas lobbed a ball past the Gilmer defense that bounced a few times before landing right at Rocha’s feet for a fourth goal that made it 9-0.
“It feels really good to score goals,” Rocha said. “I want to keep on scoring for the team. I’m not doing this just for me. I’m doing this for all of them.”
The score seemed destined to finish at 9-0, but Jeyson Garcia collected a ball that rebounded off the Gilmer goalkeeper and slotted it away to finish the game off with only 30 seconds left on the clock.
With Friday’s game in the books, the War Eagles turn their attention to the next round and a rematch with an Oconee County team that Chestatee beat 2-1 last season but that Herrin said has improved since then.
But despite the difficult task ahead, Herrin said he is not worried about his team’s chances of advancing further into the state tournament.
“The confidence level is high,” he said. “We know who we’re possibly going to play in the next round and what region those teams come from. ... We like our chances.”