In a county with five state-ranked boys soccer teams, Chestatee is making a push to be the best of them all.
Following their 7-2 win over Monroe Area on Friday, the War Eagles remain unbeaten on the season, doing so in relatively dominant fashion. They have outscored opponents 22-5 through five games, with their most recent game being the biggest offensive output of the year.
Chestatee (5-0) could have stayed quiet and inched its way into the playoffs with that kind of performance last year, when all but three Hall County teams played in Region 8-AAA. But with those teams now scattered apart in various classifications, War Eagles coach Michael Herrin realizes that his team’s early-season success could result in a target on their back within Region 8-AAAA when the state tournament approaches.
“It’s nice to be favored, but that means you have a target on your back and people are looking at you,” Herrin said. “You can’t sneak in.”
Luckily for Herrin, Chestatee doesn’t have to travel to find quality opponents. The War Eagles have all but one Hall County team on the schedule this year, providing them with a tough nonregion schedule without the big road trips.
The games don’t carry the region implications with them like they used to, but they serve as a continuation of the rivalries built over Chestatee’s decade-long existence. And as one of only two Region 8-AAAA teams ranked in Class AAAA, the eighth-ranked War Eagles are making a statement as one of the elite programs in the region.
“When you are playing those guys, you’re kind of playing for something else,” Herrin said. “I wouldn’t call it a city or county championship, but it kind of has that feel to it. Even though they’re not in region play, those are games that when we go into them, they’re going to come prepared to play and we’re going to come prepared to play.”
So when region games do roll around, such as Friday’s opener, the War Eagles are more than ready.
They quickly loaded up the scoreboard with spurts of goals in each half, the first one resulting in a 3-0 halftime lead with all three goals occurring in a seven-minute span.
Cristian Felix, who scored twice in the game, put Chestatee up 1-0 in the 13th minute when he flipped a loose ball over the head of the Monroe Area (3-1) goalkeeper. Marco Rebollar followed up with back-to-back goals in the 17th and 20th minute.
The War Eagles didn’t have to wait long after halftime for more offense, as Felix fired in another goal just seven minutes into the half. Jonathan Olivera made it 5-0 Chestatee by redirecting a corner kick into the net with a header, and Roldan Reyes added another score three minutes later when he forced a turnover in the Monroe Area zone for a wide-open shot at the Purple Hurricanes’ net.
Edgar Guerrero capped off the War Eagles’ goals in the 65th minute with a long-range shot that slipped out of Monroe Area goalkeeper’s arms and rolled into the net.
Picking up assists for Chestatee were Reyes and Jose Nunez.
“It’s the same team as last year — we just picked up where we were, in terms of our style of play,” Herrin said. “Some of the guys worked really hard in the offseason to be able to do what they’re doing this year, which is putting points on the board.”
Monroe Area’s two goals came late in the contest when the game was already out of reach. Cody Brown buried a rebound in the 30th minute to put the Purple Hurricanes on the board for the first time, and Billy Xiong added another tally off a free kick with 12.7 seconds left to play.
Chestatee hosts West Hall at 4 p.m. today in the rescheduled championship game on the boys side of the Northeast Georgia Mountains Cup.
CHESTATEE GIRLS 6, MONROE AREA 1: Alexis Rebollar broke the Lady War Eagles’ all-time scoring record with her two-goal, three-assist game in Friday’s region opener.
Rebollar, who has 69 career goals, scored twice in the first half as Chestatee (5-1) led 3-1 at halftime. Her record-setting goal game in the 15th minute when she buried a rebound off a shot by Sadie Foote.
Despite Rebollar’s historic night, Foote was the game’s leading goal-scorer with a hat trick. Rebollar assisted on all three tallies.
“Most importantly, she set somebody else up to score, which adds an extra element,” Lady War Eagles coach Mark Dunn said. “They already know her because it’s her senior year so they’re going to work her. They shifted to her, and she had Sadie wide open.”
Hope Baxter added another goal for Chestatee in the 60th minute, as the Lady War Eagles added another three goals in the second to secure their first region win of the year.
“These are the teams you need to take down,” Dunn said. “It’s an important to start like this.”
Chestatee continues region play when it hosts Eastside at 5:30 p.m. next Friday.