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Prep soccer: Lady Red Elephants beat Johnson in OT
Johnson High’s Moriah Mills (16) is kicked by Gainesville High’s Emily Stephens (8) during the first half of Friday afternoon’s game at Bobby Gruhn Field at City Park. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

GAINESVILLE — Laura Demby wasn’t about to lose on senior night.

Gainesville’s senior captain scored a goal in regulation and assisted on the game-winning goal as the Lady Red Elephants defeated Johnson 2-1 in overtime on Friday at City Park.

“It’s a huge deal to win on senior night,” Demby said. “I could tell that we were down going into overtime, but we were able to score and escape with a win.”

The win keeps Gainesville (9-3, 6-1 Area 7-AAA) tied with Flowery Branch for second place in the area.
With the score tied 1-1 in the second overtime, Demby raced down the left side of the field, cut across the penalty area, and as Johnson (7-7, 5-4) goalie Peyton Quinn stepped off her line, Demby found a wide-open Gissele Lopez, who tapped the ball into the goal for the game-winner.

“She’s a senior who plays big in big games,” Gainesville coach Mark Wade said of Demby. “She is a tremendously gifted athlete.”

It was only fitting that Demby played a role in the game-winning goal, as it was her goal in regulation that appeared to have the Lady Red Elephants poised for victory.

With both teams failing to score in the opening 40 minutes, Gainesville stepped up offensively at the start of the second half.

Demby’s first three shots on goal in the second half all failed to find the back of the net. But on her fourth shot, the senior midfielder ended the scoreless tie.

After receiving a cross from Hong Tran on her left foot, Demby pushed the ball to her right foot and fired a shot right at the Johnson goalie. Owen initially stopped the shot, but the ball ricocheted off her hands and bounced just over the goal line to give Gainesville a 1-0 lead.

Despite being down, Johnson did not give up.

The Lady Knights found a renewed energy after the Demby goal, and with 6:28 remaining in regulation, the pressure they put on Gainesville’s defense paid off.

As Johnson worked the ball down the field toward goal, Gainesville was whistled for one of its 13 fouls in the game, which set up a free kick for the Lady Knights.

Like she had been all game, Amanda Whittmer took the kick for Johnson and placed a perfect ball right on goal. While the ball didn’t find the back of the net, it did find the head of Kayleigh Durden, who scored the tying goal.

“It’s always a downer when someone gets a goal in late,” Demby said. “But I’m proud of the way we reacted and we were able to get another goal in and get the win.”

This was the second consecutive game that the Lady Red Elephants had to win in overtime, as it took Gainesville overtime and penalty kicks to defeat Chestatee on March 20.

“This was our second hard-fought game in a row,” Wade said. “I think last Friday’s game helped us stay focused (on Friday).

“Johnson gave us everything they had, and I’m glad we were able to come away with a win, because for a while there I didn’t think we were.”

Gainesville plays host to East Hall at 5:30 p.m. Monday, while Johnson plays host to Chestatee at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

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