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Huertas powers Dacula to win

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Dacula's Jeisson Giraldo, left, slides into Meadowcreek's Luis Bolanos as they battle for control of the ball on Tuesday.

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Dacula's Jeisson Giraldo, left, slides into Meadowcreek's Luis Bolanos as they battle for control of the ball on Tuesday.

NORCROSS -- Both No. 8 state-ranked Dacula and Meadowcreek had plenty on the line in their Region 8-AAAAA boys soccer clash Tuesday night.

But the visiting Falcons were the ones that played like a team on a mission.

Luis Huertas scored four goals and Ado Junuzovic added three goals and an assist as Dacula remained the region's only unbeaten team with a 9-0 rout of the hosts at Meadowcreek Community Stadium.

"The guys showed up to play," said Dacula coach Michael Burrell, whose Falcons (11-3, 5-0) are technically still three points behind Brookwood for the region lead, but remain on track for the first region championship in school history if they win their remaining three games. "That's why they came out to play so hard. They know what's at stake."

Dacula made an early statement, scoring three times in a 4:23 span in the first 15 minutes of the opening half.

Junuzovic got the offense started by whistling a through ball up the center of the field to Huertas, who muscled past his defender and dribbled in to about 25 yards out before firing a rocket inside the near post to put the Falcons up 1-0 just 12 minutes into the game.

A similar play helped Dacula increase its lead less than a minute and a half later.

This time, it was a punt by goalkeeper Kris Alonzo that Junuzovic ran down before speeding past his defender and finishing from 30 yards out, making the score 2-0 with 26:29 left in the first half.

Meadowcreek had a chance to answer less than two minutes later when Dacula was called for a foul about 30 yards from the Falcons' goal.

And Cristhian Acosta bent a solid shot around the Dacula wall, but Alonzo dove to his left to make the save.

Less than two minutes later, Huertas helped the Falcons re-establish momentum, getting free on the right wing to slam home Jamie Gleeson's pass and extend the lead to 3-0 at the 24:37 mark.

"Our two co-captains, Ado and (Chris) Jeanfreau, kind of gave us a scouting report (on Meadowcreek's defense)," Burrell said. "And when you have two of the best forwards in the county, if not the state (in Junuzovic and Huertas) working together, it's hard for a defense to keep up.

"We just dictated the pace of the game, and it's hard for a team to rebound when you get up like that."

Huertas then scored his third of the game from Michael Kanu with 12 minutes left and took a 4-0 lead into intermission, and the Falcons kept up the pressure with Gleeson's unassisted goal just 1:05 into the second half to make it 5-0, and the rout was on.

Gleeson finished with a second assist to go with the goal, while Kanu added a goal and an assist to aid the Falcons' onslaught.

The result was a disappointing one for Meadowcreek, but the Mustangs (7-5, 4-3) still have their postseason fate in their own hands heading into the season finale against neighborhood rival Berkmar.

However, coach Jean-Jacques Gregoire knows it will take a better outing from his team.

"We have a very young team that is very inexperienced at playing games at this level," Gregoire said. "(Dacula has) some pace. ... They play well together. They're the best team we've played this year by far.

"(The finale against Berkmar) is going to be a huge game. It's going to be a mental game because they're our rival, and there's going to be a lot of emotion."