Posted: Tuesday, March 19th 2013 at 11:59pm
Soccer: Gainesville boys' rebound continues in 5-1 defeat of Apalachee
By Morgan Lee Editor
Gainesville's Alberto Murillo looks to control a pass in front of an Apalachee defender in the Red Elephants' 5-1 win over the Wildcats on Tuesday in Gainesville.
GAINESVILLE -- It may have seemed inevitable that the Gainesville boys soccer team would face adversity in 2013.
What was not inevitable was how the Red Elephants -- who lost eight starters from last year’s Class AAA runner-up squad -- would react to that adversity.
By the look of things on Tuesday the answer is just fine, thank you.
After suffering a three-game losing skid, Gainesville bounced back with a second consecutive emphatic victory, hammering Apalachee by a 5-1 scoreline that only hinted at the one-sided nature of Tuesday’s Region 8-AAAAA contest at City Park.
“We hit a big rut but the good thing is that we really responded, and I’m happy about the perseverance these guys have shown,” Red Elephants coach Rick Howard said after watching his team fall to McIntosh, Clarke Central and Chestatee in succession. “For a while, nothing went right; now we’re starting to put it all together.”
Following a 6-0 shutout of Salem on Friday, Gainesville continued to show its dominance on Tuesday, hemming Apalachee in its own half, while putting the Wildcats’ goal under pressure from the outset.
The only thing lacking for the Red Elephants -- at least in the early stages -- was the goal-scoring touch, as Gainesville needed 27 minutes to take a lead that seemed inevitable from the time Erik Romero saw his shot cleared off the Apalachee goal line just 1:32 into the contest.
Once Gage Turner staked Gainesville to a 1-0 lead with 13:34 left in the first half, however, the Red Elephants (6-3-1, 2-1 Region 8-AAAAA) began to pull away, as Roman Arriaga and Ricardo Gomez each added strikes for a 3-0 halftime advantage.
Arriaga went on to bag a hat trick, scoring twice more in the second half -- in the process answering the Wildcats’ only goal of the contest, when Victor Masvikeni saw his free kick deflected into the Gainesville goal by a Red Elephants defender.
“We’re young and inexperienced, and we’re going to make mistakes,” Howard said. “But we have played really well as a team over the last two games. We have to continue to get better though. We’ve got some tough games coming up.”
The Red Elephants looked set to put Tuesday’s contest out of reach early, as Romero fashioned two inviting scoring opportunities -- only to watch one shot cleared off the goal line by a defender and a close-range header fly wide of the mark. Alberto Murillo and Omar Campos also came close to breaking the deadlock, but neither could convert. Yet with Gomez and Murillo pulling the strings in midfield it seemed a question of “when” rather than “if,” and Turner provided that answer with just over 13 minutes left in the half, sprinting on to a perfectly-weighted pass from Arlis Nunez and tapping a first-time shot around a charging Wildcat goalkeeper.
Arriaga doubled the lead with 7:54 left in the period, converting a penalty kick -- twice in a row, after his first attempt was disallowed for encroachment. Gomez made it 3-0 four minutes later when he curled a 23-yard free kick over the Apalachee defensive wall and into the left corner of the Wildcats’ goal.
Arriaga pounced again with 30:11 left, sprinting on to Gomez’s inviting chip and rolling a shot past a stranded Wildcat keeper.
“We’re finding some players who can play for us up top,” Howard said. “But most importantly it looks like the defense is coming together. And they will be tested here in the next few days.”
Gainesville will travel to face Winder-Barrow on Friday.
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