Mary-Catherine Dempsey gave the Gainesville’s girls the fast start they so desperately wanted against a talented Mary Persons squad in their second-round playoff match Wednesday at City Park Stadium.
Battling for possession at the 18, Dempsey was in position after the ball deflected off a Mary Persons (13-4-2) defender in the seventh minute and placed a shot with her left foot over the keeper’s head and into the back of the net for the Lady Red Elephants’ first goal on the way to a 3-0 victory.
“Anytime you can come out strong, it sets the tone for the entire game,” Gainesville coach Mark Wade said. “We wanted to start fast because we knew Mary Persons was strong and had only lost a few games coming into tonight.”
With the win, Gainesville (15-3-2) will play host to Carrollton in the state quarterfinals on Saturday. Match time is still to be determined. The Red Elephants lost a regular-season meeting to Carrollton, 2-1, in March.
After the early goal, Gainesville stopped pressing and dropped its midfielders to a defensive position. The Lady Red Elephants controlled the tempo the remainder of the game after coming out of the half with a 2-0 lead.
“We played really well tonight,” Dempsey said. “It was a great team effort.”
For the second consecutive playoff outing, Gainesville junior Hartley Carter scored a pair of goals. She now stands at 31 on the season, one shy of the school-record 32 goals by Sara Kate Rogers in 2007.
According to Wade, the goals for Carter were set up by the play from Gainesville’s midfield.
“Our midfield played phenomenal tonight,” Wade said. “We were connecting passes in the midfield better than we have all season.”
With a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute, Carter had a shot to the side of the net that was saved on a superb diving stab by Mary Persons’ keeper, which resulted in a yellow card from contact on Carter. Mary Persons’ keeper came up with another great save on an indirect free kick from Liza Carpenter.
Carter’s first goal came midway through the opening half when she came back for the ball on an assist from Elizabeth Fishcher, kicked the ball low and had it glance off the keeper’s hand and into the net to build a 2-0 lead.
The Gainesville defense held Mary Persons to only one shot on goal in the first half, which Lady Red Elephants keeper Rebecca Webster deflected over the top of the goal.
Carter’s second-half goal came off a series that began with a Carpenter free kick. When Mary Persons’ keeper didn’t control the ball cleanly off the save, it rolled wide and Carter was on the spot for an open goal.
Carrollton advanced to the quarterfinals with a 3-1 second-round win Wednesday against Eagles Landing.