The magical inaugural season for The Dalton Academy keeps marching on.
The Pumas sprinted past Claxton 5-0 at home Tuesday in the Class A Public quarterfinals to reach the state Final Four in the school’s first season of play.
“It means a lot just to keep it going,” Dalton Academy coach Rury Alvarez said. “We’re blessed and lucky to be here in our first year.”
Dalton Academy hosts Georgia Military on Friday in the state semifinals, with a berth in the state finals in Macon on the line.
The Pumas (16-2) needed just over five minutes to put Claxton (9-6) behind.
On a scramble after a Dalton Academy throw-in near the Claxton goal, Eri Lopez broke into a sprint at a loose ball and rocketed it into the back of the net in one motion.
With 27:40 left in the first half, Milver Carillo Perez was shouldered hard to the ground by a Claxton player, drawing a yellow card and a free kick opportunity.
Andy Reynoso took the free kick, arcing it over a wall of Claxton defenders and into the corner of the net.
The Pumas struck again with 14:24 before halftime. Adrian Granados bumped the ball to the outside to get it away from the defense, created space, retrieved the ball and sent it in on the run.
Dalton Academy headed into halftime up 3-0, but the final few minutes of play in the first saw Claxton get more shots off at the goal after being held down most of the half.
With the visitors looking to grab momentum after half, Dalton Academy instead slammed the door.
After the break, the Pumas needed only 16 seconds to pile on another point. The Pumas took the opening kickoff and rocketed downfield. A centering pass found an open Christian Cuna, who headed it in for a goal.
Reynoso got his second goal off of a corner kick with 25:39 to play. He sent the ball in from the corner, and it bounced between Claxton defenders before finding the back of the net.
“We knew that we could do better than the last two games we had,” Alvarez said. “I think today was a better game from us. We put it all together, and it worked out.”
Georgia Military earned its spot in the semifinals by downing Trion, a fellow member of Region 6-A Public with Dalton Academy, 2-1 Tuesday. The Pumas defeated Trion 2-1 in their matchup earlier this season.