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Gainesville girls outlast North Hall, 1-0
Lady Red Elephants move to 9-0 in Region 8-AAA
Gainesville High’s Hartley Carter, center, sprints toward the goal with North Hall’s Anna Matthews, right, and Janet Martinez giving chase during the first half of the Red Elephants’ game with North Hall at City Park Stadium. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

The Gainesville girls can enjoy spring break a little bit more next week knowing they’re one step closer to attaining a Region 8-AAA championship, even though they still have three more region contests remaining after the week off from school.

“We’re staying confident but know that we have to keep it up,” Gainesville’s Hartley Carter said. “We know we’re not better than any team we have to play.

“We’ve just got to keep it up and keep playing hard to win the region title.”

On Thursday, Gainesville’s (11-2, 9-0 Region 8-AAA) striker Carter slipped past the North Hall (5-8, 5-4) goalie with 17 minutes left to play and connected for the game’s only score in a 1-0 win at City Park Stadium.

Her score came only a couple minutes after she beat the keeper to a through ball, before the shot was saved just before it crossed the line by North Hall’s Anna Matthews.

In a game where scoring opportunities were few, Carter made the most of hers late in the second half. Lady Red Elephants coach Mark Wade liked the matchup when Carter got inside the 20, even though she was trying to get it past North Hall’s talented keeper, Alden Powell.

“Hartley’s really strong at cutting defenders,” Wade said. “She’s been making those plays all season.”

After Powell made a couple nice saves on Gainesville goal attempts early in the second half, Carter possessed the ball after senior Liza Carpenter played it through to the Lady Red Elephants’ leading scorer. Carter now has 23 goals on the season, just nine shy of the program-record 32.

With a slight cut past a defender, Carter was able to put it around the advancing keeper.

“Alden is a fantastic goalkeeper,” Carter said. “It felt great to be able to score when I did.”

Carter’s scorer erased a miss as Matthews stopped the ball just inches before it crossed the line with only 20 minutes left to play. Her shot on the goal was made possible when she beat the keeper on a through ball, but the kick was slowed just enough after colliding with Powell going for the ball, making it possible for Matthews to stop it before it counted as a score.

Gainesville started challenging for its first score early in the second half. Carpenter was close on a header that sailed high of the crossbar, along with a cross from Carpenter to Elizabeth Fischer that Powell was able to save prior to that.

The Lady Red Elephants coach was especially satisfied with a strong ending to the week that started with a win in penalty kicks against Oconee County on Tuesday. Gainesville visits Central Gwinnett for its next game at 6 p.m. on April 11 in Lawrenceville.

“Our region is so competitive that the 1-7 are about the same,” Wade said. “We’ve had a lot of luck this season, but the girls have worked very hard.”

GAINESVILLE BOYS 2, NORTH HALL 0: The fifth-ranked Red Elephants (12-1, 9-0) turned a wide-open game in the second half into a pair of goals late against the Trojans (7-3, 6-3). Just minutes after a near miss by Ricardo Gomez, Gainesville got on the board with a goal by senior midfielder Aidan Reising. Eduardo Espinoza was credited with the assist.

Leading 1-0 with only 10 minutes left to play, Espinoza scored from about 20 yards away on a feed from Reising.
Gainesville preserved its lead and held North Hall off the board with a nice save by Jamie Mattick on a shot inside the penalty area.

With the win, Gainesville has now recorded four consecutive shutouts. It has held its opponent scoreless 10 times this season. The Red Elephants face Central Gwinnett next at 8 p.m. on April 11. North Hall hosts Forsyth Central at 7:30 p.m. on April 10.

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