TUNNEL HILL — The boys and girls soccer teams at Northwest Whitfield High School opened the Class 4A playoffs on the same night on the same field against the same school.
The results from each game were, more or less, the same.
Each team from Tunnel Hill defended their home field Thursday with convincing, shutout wins over the respective boys and girls programs from Atlanta's Mays. The Northwest boys won 10-0, while the Lady Bruins earned an 11-0 victory. Both games ended with time still left on the clock due to mercy rule.
"It took a little while to wake up at the beginning of the game, but overall, it was a great opportunity to work on communicating and finishing," Northwest head coach Tino Hernandez said. "I'm happy to see them do that tonight."
The boys' game ended with 16:19 left in the second half when a Fredy Lara penalty kick gave the Bruins (10-2) a 10-0 lead. Northwest scored two goals in the first 10 minutes of the game, and led 5-0 at half. Three more goals early in the second half, including two from Nico Cuna, pushed Mays (3-5) to the brink before the Bruins pulled many of their starters. That didn't stop Northwest from scoring the final two goals needed to end the game.
Cuna finished with three goals, as did teammate Eliseo Padilla. Cuna picked up three assists, while Huriel Guzman led Northwest with four assists. Geovany Arredondo and Alexander Jimenez also got in on the scoring.
"He's been one of those guys that have provided a lot of spark for us," Hernandez said of Cuna. "Huriel Guzman had three or four of those assists to Nico, and that connection kind of lit up the team."
Northwest, the second-seeded team in Region 7-4A, moves on to the Sweet 16. On Thursday, the Bruins play the winner of the first round match scheduled for tonight between top-seeded Luella and fourth-seeded Flowery Branch.
Before the Bruins earned their win, the Northwest girls (11-0-3) didn't need nearly as long to end their dominant game with a win over Mays (1-4). The Lady Bruins scored early and often, racking up the 10 goals that would usually end a game by mercy rule with a few minutes left before halftime. Playoff rules require that at least a half is played, so the Lady Bruins had time to add yet another goal before the halftime horn instead ended the match at 11-0.
"The key to these playoffs is going to be playing physical and playing quick, which we're capable of," Lady Bruin head coach Amanda Moore said. "Tonight, being able to score off that was hopeful."
Jailyne Martinez scored four goals, including two that came just 30 seconds apart, and Vanessa Coronel scored three. Six of the Northwest goals came in the final 13 minutes of action.
The Lady Bruins are in the Sweet 16 for just the second time in the program's history. Northwest, the top team from Region 7-4A, hosts Region 8-4A's third seed, Jefferson, on Wednesday.
"They've got to know that they belong here," Moore said. "We've got to play quick, just like we have all season."