The Johnson girls soccer team had Gainesville in a position no other team had all season. The Lady Knights led 2-0 with 10 minutes remaining in the first half, appearing poised for a potential upset.
And then the skies opened up.
After enduring nearly an hour-long weather delay just 13 minutes before, rain and lightning returned in full force, suspending the girls game in the first half with Johnson ahead 2-0 on Tuesday.
The game is scheduled to resume where it left off at 5:30 p.m. today at Johnson. The boys game, which never got under way, is set for 8 p.m. tonight.
Both Gainesville boys and girls teams are trying to clinch a region title with a win. The boys lead Johnson and Chestatee by one game in the loss column, and the girls lead by the same margin.
The Chestatee boys managed to complete their game, picking up a 7-1 win over Stephens County to pick up a game in the region.
Johnson boys coach Brian Shirley said he didn’t expect the delay to factor into the decision.
“Some of the guys were disappointed, I’m sure, but I don’t see a letdown or anything coming,” he said. “They wanted to play, and they would have played at two in the morning if we could have. We just have to channel our emotion and play well.”
Lady Knights coach Phil Higgins didn’t want to speak too much on his teams’ fast start in the game until the match was completed, but he did say he was happy with the start.
“We had a couple of big shots,” he said. “I hope that momentum can carry over. I’ll leave it at that for now.”
Johnson scored its first goal less than two minutes into the game when senior Bethany Johnson lofted a shot from about 35 yards out just over the outstretched arms of Gainesville goalkeeper Rebecca Webster.
Any higher, and the shot would have hit the crossbar; any lower, it would have been caught.
Johnson scored again in the 27th minute, again from about 35 yards out.
Gainesville girls coach Mark Wade said that it was a new situation for his club.
“The way I see it, we’ve got 50 minutes to find some goals,” he said. “We had some good opportunities, but we just couldn’t finish. We’ve never faced a challenge like this yet.”
He said the rain, while it doesn’t necessarily help his team, did give him a chance to talk with his players and calm them down.
“It gave me a chance to really challenge the girls,” Wade said. “I did that right after we suspended it. I told them we’re in a situation where if we come back and win, we win the region. That’s been our goal all season, so we’ve got 50 minutes to do it.”