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High school soccer semifinals: Overcoming obstacles has been part of the path to staying in race for a state title
Viviant reflects on Gainesville's adversities as the team prepares for the state semifinals
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Winder Barrow's Sean Rowtham (17) and Gainesville's Armando Hernandez (8) chase after a ball Tuesday during the Gainesville boys game against Winder-Barrow at Bobby Gruhn Field at City Park. - photo by Erin O. Smith

The adversities have come in waves for Gainesville High School boys soccer team this season. Two senior starters Erick Serrato and Alejandro Covarrubias fell out of contention early with season-ending injuries. 

As a result, winning has become more laborious, but the result continues to be victorious.

“I thought it would be the year that Gainesville was unstoppable and instead we are fighting everywhere,” coach Elie Viviant said. 

The battles will continue Tuesday when the Red Elephants host Cambridge in the Class 6A semifinals. The match starts at 7:30 p.m. at City Park Stadium.

Viviant says the Bears possess a different playing style than the Red Elephants. Neither team is better than the other, but each squad offers the same value, creating a good matchup in his eyes.

Homefield advantage is what might carry Gainesville; after all, it has for the past two seasons. At home, the Red Elephants have lost just two games in two years. 

“That’s why we work during the season to have a number one seed,” Viviant said. “We don’t have to travel anywhere. 

“It’s things like that we can count on when we play home. You don’t have to motivate the players extra. They want to do well at home in front of their family.”

Last week, Gainesville beat Richmond Hill 4-3 in the Round of 8. The tight score was a result of a late surge by the Wildcats. Gainesville senior starters Armando Hernandez and Eduardo Bautista left the game with injuries in the second half, placing pressure on the bench. 

“We all talked about if anything happens where we have the lead, we’re going to have to try and keep it as well as we can, and for everybody that comes out, they have to play with the same intensity and heart that everybody else plays with so that it won’t happen again,” Hernandez said in preparation of his final match at City Park.

Viviant says type of performance would defeat them moving forward. Luckily, Hernandez and Bautista are spotted to start Tuesday.

“I expect them to win or lose, to come out tired and to give everything they have,” Viviant said. “If they can give me that, it will already be good. I think we’ll have a good chance to be successful tomorrow.”

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