VARNELL — For a half, it seemed Coahulla Creek High School, the top-seeded team out of Region 6-3A, was in trouble in their Class 3A boys soccer state playoff opener.
Gilmer, the fourth seed in 7-3A, held the match scoreless through the first 40 minutes, with plenty of Coahulla Creek shots sailing just wide or tall or into the arms of the Gilmer keeper as the Colts pushed into the wind on a blustery, cold Wednesday evening.
Then, a second-half stampede lifted the Colts to a 7-0 win.
"Gilmer definitely brought their A-game in the first. They were pressuring every ball," Creek head coach Aurelio Jacobo said. "The guys really woke up and showed their skill in the second half."
Coahulla Creek (14-2-2) struck first just six minutes into the second period, and the Colts had a 5-0 lead over Gilmer (5-5-1) by the time the clock ticked under 20 minutes.
"We were able to get that one breakaway, and we just went from there," Jacobo said. "The guys were getting frustrated, but I just told them that it's just a matter of somebody getting one in. That's the way it usually works, and the momentum gets going."
Leading the Colt charge was Jaime Mendiola, the North Carolina State signee. He limped off with an injury early in the second half, but came back in to net three goals. One stop-and-start move left Mendiola alone in front of the Gilmer goalkeeper. Mendiola faked, then calmly kicked the ball through the goalkeeper's legs. Mendiola also scored on a penalty kick, then got his third goal with 13 minutes left.
Ronaldo Medina also scored two Colt goals, including the final one, a header with 9:08 left. Emmanuel Arredondo and Saul Barcenas each added another goal. Arredondo assisted on three goals.
"We have four guys that are consistent in scoring, and they all got at least one goal tonight," Jacobo said.
The Colts host East Jackson in the Sweet 16, which starts Tuesday.
In other high school sports action on Wednesday:
North Murray 1, West Hall 0
North Murray (11-6-1) advanced in the Class 3A playoffs after defeating West Hall (5-6) 1-0 at home on Wednesday.
Eliezer Velasquez scored the difference-making goal, getting an assist from Uriel Marquez.
Mountaineer goalkeeper Victor Paniagua kept the lead safe with nine saves.
The Mountaineers advance to the Sweet 16, where they'll travel to play Oconee County.
Pinecrest Academy 4, Christian Heritage 1
Christian Heritage (4-9-1) fell at Cumming's Pinecrest Academy (4-4) on Wednesday in the first round of the Class A Private playoffs, ending the Lions' season.
Christian Heritage answered with a goal after Pinecrest got out to a 3-0 lead, but couldn't catch up.
Northwest Whitfield 3, Jefferson 1
Northwest Whitfield is in the state's Elite 8 after dispatching Jefferson 3-1 in the Class 4A playoffs on Wednesday.
Collin Hall got a 6-4, 6-2 win in singles, while Sebastian Tomsic earned a 6-4, 6-1 victory. The doubles duo of Nick Matthews and Carter Montgomery earned a 6-3, 6-4 win.
The Bruins advance to play the winner of the second-round match between Islands and Thomas County Central.