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Gainesville boys clinch 7-AAA soccer title
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The numbers two and one seem to hold special signifigance for the Gainesville and Johnson boys’ soccer teams this year.

Entering Friday's game, Gainesville was ranked number one in Region 7-AAA, with Johnson below them at number two. Friday night at City Park, those numbers continued to play a crucial role in the future of these teams as Gainesville survived a late scare and beat Johnson, 2-1.

Gainesville clinched the region title with the win, but coach Rick Howard gave the team all of the credit.

“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” Howard said. “I’ve got to give it to my players; the players were the ones that won it on the field.”

The Red Elephants (13-0, 10-0) knew that they had to lay everything on the line in order to reach this point, and they did exactly that, Howard added.

“Nathan Dillard, Charlie [Bryant], Venustiano [Perez], and Albert Murillo all gave their hearts out there.”  

Gainesville took the first step toward wrapping up the title when Russ Puckett scored at 12:29 in the first half with an assist from Merly Velasquez.

Ten minutes later, the Knights (11-3, 8-2) were given a penalty kick that they could not capitalize on, but they were not deterred, and came back to tie the game at 37:06 of the first half on an unassisted goal by Diego Cuevas.

Going into the second half, both teams carried spirit and momentum. Gainesville, however, increased their energy and passion and used it to their advantage. Douglas Mejia scored what would become the game-winning goal at 4:08 of the second half with assists from Irving Salgado and Gabriel Osorio.

The Red Elephants fought for the rest of the game, but their lead almost slipped away with 20 seconds left when Johnson scored to tie the game after a throw-in. However, the goal was disallowed because no one touched the ball after the throw-in to direct it into the net, and City Park erupted in cheers and chants for the home team.

Although the number of shots favored Johnson throughout the game, they were unable to benefit from the surplus.

“I’m proud of them, but all they’ve done is taken another step toward the ultimate goal,” Howard said. “This was a battle. Beating a good team like this, I think we will carry that through. We’re going in to get better and win it.”

Friday night, the number two was on their side and helped them secure the number one.
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