With a recent rough stretch of play and some injuries to add on top, the Gainesville girls soccer team came into Friday night looking for a spark to turn their play around. But a tough foe in Heritage stood in the way.
The Lady Red Elephants lost 3-0 in a Region 8-AAAAA matchup at City Park Stadium.
The Lady Patriots’ (12-3-2, 7-0) defense didn’t allow easy shots on goal for the Lady Red Elephants (9-5-1, 5-3), and two goals in the game’s opening 12 minutes took pressure off the Heritage offense and put it directly on the Lady Red Elephants’ defense.
“It’s a disappointing loss for us,” Gainesville coach Mark Wade said. “We’ve really had to fight here at the end of the season, but we’re starting to get healthier.
“I’m hoping we can start putting some stuff back together and play the way we played in mid-March, which I thought was as good as anybody around here. We just got to get back to that.”
The Lady Patriots’ first goal came with 34:45 left in the first half as freshmen Faith Shelton booted it in for a fast 1-0 lead. Six minutes later, Heritage captain Ally Silvey gave her squad a 2-0 lead that they would carry to halftime.
Freshmen Sara Boggus booted in the Lady Patriots’ final goal with 30:55 left in the game.
“We hang our hat on playing solid defense,” Heritage coach Chad Suddeth said. “We’ve got a fantastic keeper, and if we play good defense in front of her and make people shoot from distance, then they’re going to have a hard time scoring.”
“Those two early goals really set the tone. It really, kind of lit a fire under both teams, I thought...I’m real proud. It’s a huge region win. Gainesville’s good. They’re well coached. I know they got some injuries, but we’re real fortunate for any victory inside the region.”
Despite the loss, Wade said he was impressed and encouraged by the play of his defense and younger players after giving up the two early goals.
The Lady Red Elephants end their regular season on Tuesday night against White County. The Lady Patriots are at Loganville.
GAINESVILLE BOYS 4, HERITAGE 1: The Red Elephants’ scoring was led by sophomore Erik Romero, who scored two goals in the last three minutes of the first half Friday.
Ricardo Gomez and Roberto Nunez added the other two goals in the boys victory. Gomez also had one assist, as well junior Josh Panter.
“We played really well tonight,” Gainesville head coach Rick Howard said. “It was a total team effort. Everybody stepped up when they needed to be.
“It shows that these guys are full of heart; full of hard work. All the credit goes to them. (Heritage) is a good team...That is a very well-trained team. Very classy team. That’s something we could learn from. Credit to them, just my guys stepped up tonight. Can’t take anything away from Heritage, but I think it’s a good victory.”
Gainesville host White County on Tuesday night. Heritage is at Loganville.