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Gainesville girls upset Carrollton in first round of state
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Gainesville’s Catherine Chambers and Carrollton’s Jessica Edwards fight for possession in the first round of the Class AAA state playoffs Saturday in Carrollton. - photo by Thomas O'Connor
CARROLLTON — In the end, it was the keeper that sealed it with a penalty kick.

It isn’t your typical formula for victory, but Gainesville High School girls soccer coach Mark Wade certainly wasn’t complaining after junior Hong Tran capped off the Lady Red Elephants’ 2-1 upset win over top-seeded Carrollton on Saturday night at Grisham
Stadium by hitting the fifth of five penalty kicks.

This came just moments after Tran stopped Kate Fazio’s penalty kick — the third attempt the Lady Trojans — which proved to be the difference in moving on to the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs or going home.

“We’re good at taking penalty kicks,” Wade said, “and we have a keeper who’s good at stopping them.

“I’m really happy for our girls, it’s a special group. It wasn’t that long ago that we were almost out of the playoffs, so it’s like we’ve been in that win or go home mode for a while.”

Following a 1-1 regulation and a pair of scoreless five-minute overtime periods, Gainesville (11-5), the No. 4 seed out of Region 7-AAA, captured the upset victory in dramatic fashion.

It proved to be a frustrating finish for the Lady Trojans, as they were deep in Gainesville territory the majority of the night, but could only muster that one goal.

“They really took it to us,” Wade said, “but we were able to hang on and get it to penalty kicks.

“Hong Tran had several great saves during the game and Liza Carpenter bailed us out a lot on defense.”

The loss also marks the second consecutive year that Carrollton’s been ousted in the opening round to a No. 4 seed.

“It’s very tough,” Carrollton coach Drew Ebensberger said. “You know, they put one in on us the first half. We were playing a little slow, a little sloppy. We were able to equalize it in the second half. We put more pressure, pretty much dominating. They just kind of packed it in on us, and we could finish. We couldn’t get it in.”

Gainesville’s Raquel Castillo opened the scoring off a Kelly Mattick assist at the 22:41 mark of the first half and the Lady Red Elephants took that lead into intermission.

The Lady Trojans (11-5-1) answered on a Morgan McDonald goal at the 24:22 mark of the second half off a Clancy Tuggle throw-in to tie the game at 1-1.

And with several scoring opportunities late, Carrollton couldn’t get through against a packed-in Lady Red Elephant defense.
“I mean, we just couldn’t capitalize. We couldn’t finish. We couldn’t put it in the back of the net,” Ebensberger said.

Ebensberger added that he hated to see his seniors go out in such a fashion.

“The PK, it was just something unfortunate,” Ebensberger said. “It’s something we learn from. We grow, and we start playing for next year.”
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