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Gainesville boys soccer team falls to No. 1 McIntosh

Red Elephants unable to stop Chiefs from earning 28th straight win

POSTED: March 1, 2014 8:23 p.m.
Jared Putnam/The Times

Gainesville goalkeeper Gage Turner, right, punches the ball away from the goal as McIntosh's Nick Alvey tries for the header and Christian Escaleria (11) and Carson Brooks look on Saturday at City Park Stadium in Gainesville.

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Gainesville’s boys soccer team tested McIntosh as well as any squad has since the end of the 2012 season.

Unfortunately for the Red Elephants, even that wasn’t enough to stop the defending Class AAAAA champion Chiefs from reeling off their 28th consecutive victory.

Didrik Cooper-Seip took a pass from Carson Brooks and beat a pair of Gainesville defenders for a goal with 6 1/2 minutes remaining, and No. 1 McIntosh edged No. 7 Gainesville 1-0 on Saturday at City Park Stadium in Gainesville.

“We’re trying to schedule the best teams that we can ... and we want to compete against the best so we can develop,” Gainesville coach Rick Howard said.

“There’s some really good teams in Hall County and there’s some really good teams around the state that I want to seek out and play. I want to seek out and play the best so that when it comes playoff time, we’re ready.”

When looking to play the best, it’s hard to find a team better than the Chiefs in the state of Georgia.

McIntosh (5-0) has not been beaten since suffering a 3-0 loss to Lambert High School in the Class AAAAA state quarterfinals on May 11, 2012.

The Chiefs’ win over Gainesville (3-1-1) marked only the second time they have been held to a single goal since that playoff defeat, and they have shut out their opponents in 23 of their last 28 games.

“What we were trying to do was just play good, organized team defense, not leave anybody out on an island by themselves,” Howard said. “(We wanted) to really work as a team to take away the space. We did that for about 68 minutes.”

McIntosh kept the pressure on Gainesville in the first half and threatened to score on a handful of occasions, but the majority of those attempts sailed wide of the posts or over the crossbar.

The Red Elephants found their best scoring opportunities late in the first half and early in the second.

Ricardo Gomez sent a free kick just over the crossbar with less than five minutes to play in the first half. Less that 10 minutes into the second half, Diego Porras collected a pass in the middle of the box and attempt a bicycle kick that went to straight to goalkeeper Spencer Wrobleski.

“We need to improve our movement off the ball, that’s where it starts,” Howard said of his team’s offense. “I thought for a long time we were very stagnant up there, running out of ideas, not very inventive. We did some good stuff and we were better than we were the game before.

“We’re still dealing with so much time in preseason because of the snow and the rain and everything like that. Everybody is dealing with that, but we just need to establish a rhythm and move off the ball more.”

The Chiefs began to find their rhythm on offense midway through the second half.

They came close to scoring in the 60th minute on a long free kick that Gainesville goalkeeper Gage Turner punched over the crossbar. Six minutes later, McIntosh sent a corner kick into the box only to have an ensuing carom sail a few inches too high, hitting the bottom of the crossbar before bouncing back into play.

Seconds later, Brooks stole a pass and found himself with only Turner in front of him, but he kicked the ball straight at the goalkeeper.

Brooks atoned for the missed opportunity several minutes later when he fed the ball to Cooper-Seip, who evaded his defender and sent a low kick inside the left post for the game’s lone goal.

“We had an opportunity to clear it, we didn’t, and they pounced on it. All in all I’m really proud of the effort we gave today,” Howard said.

“Going into region (play), we really needed this. We’re going to learn some lessons, we’re going to have some pride in the way we hustled and Tuesday night we’re going to take on Salem.”

The Red Elephants will face the Seminoles at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Conyers.


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