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Gainesville boys soccer advances with 4-0 win in Round 1
Gainesville High’s Irving Salgado, left and Cedartown’s Arturo Cruz scramble after the ball during the first half of Thursday evening’s playoff match at Bobby Gruhn Field at City Park.
GAINESVILLE — For the Gainesville High boys soccer team, whether or not scoring came easy this season is subjective.
The fact that the Red Elephants scored a lot — averaging exactly five goals per game — is not, and that trend continued Thursday.

Four different players scored for Gainesville (16-0) and Marco Monreal earned his eighth shut out in goal as Class AAA’s third-ranked Red Elephants beat Cedartown 4-0 in the opening round of the state playoffs at City Park.

“I don’t think the score is a reflection of how hard (Cedartown) played,” Gainesville coach Rick Howard said. “All in all though, it was a good first round victory against a good defensive team.”

Gainesville had a nine-day layoff between its final game of the regular season and Thursday’s state opener.

And according to Howard, the time off both hurt and helped them.

“We came out of the break doing the things that we weren’t doing well before the break, well,” he said. “We possessed the ball really well tonight.

“The things we were doing well before the break, however, we’re going to have to go back and work on some.”
Gainesville pressured offensively throughout the night, to the tune of 19 shots on goal. Worrisome to Howard, however, is the fact that the Red Elephants converted only 21 percent of those opportunities.

“We need to defend as a team better,” he said, “and do a better job connecting on certain things and finishing.”

While finishing more regularly will be something Gainesville will work on between now and Round 2, the Red Elephants did it enough times Thursday to advance in dominating fashion.

The Red Elephants first goal came at the 20-minute mark when Irving Salgado settled the ball five yards from the goal, turned and shot. The ball richocheted off a Cedartown (12-5) player and into the left corner of the net.

Gainesville made it 2-0 16 minutes later when, following the Bulldogs first shot on goal, leading scorer Russ Puckett struck the ball from 10-yards out, hitting the back of the net.

Yunis Yanis earned the assist on the Puckett goal.

“We made some adjustments about 20 minutes into the game and that gave us the momentum,” Howard said.

The physicality of Thursday’s game was obvious from the start and proven in their being 16 fouls called and six yellow cards given between the two teams.

“I’ll say this, we kept our composure in a heated playoff game and I’m very happy about that,” Howard said.
Following halftime, Gainesville wasted little time getting on the board again, scoring on a shot in traffic by Gabriel Osorio three
minutes in after Salgado found him on a through ball.

Eleven minutes later, Gainesville scored its final goal when Carlos Sanchez rebounded a ball and shot it in.

Gainesville’s defense did its part too Thursday, holding Cedartown to just three shots on goal for the game.
“We live to fight another day,” Howard said.

With the win, Gainesville advances to face the Riverwood/Stephens County winner at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Park.
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