Gainesville

Gainesville sophomore forward Miguel Arriaga dribbles the ball in the middle of the field in the Leopards’ 4-2 win over Bridgeport on Wednesday, March 10, at Leopard Stadium. The Leopards wrapped up their district championship with a 4-0 victory over Wichita Falls Hirschi on Monday, March 8.

Despite taking a 2-0 lead into halftime, the Gainesville Leopards soccer team wasn’t playing up to its potential.

It took two individual efforts by Gabriel Nevarez and Jose Monsivais to claim a lead, but besides that, the Leopards weren’t on their game.

Even though they breezed their way to a 4-2 victory over Bridgeport on Wednesday, March 11, head coach Danny Franco said the Leopards needed to up their game as they head into the final game of the regular season.

A potential reason for the drop in play was the Leopards clinching the district championship the game before in a 4-0 rout of Wichita Falls Hirschi.

“We played and started really sloppy,” Franco said. “I don’t know if it’s because we’re comfortable because we won district. We had the wind in the first 15 minutes, but we couldn’t get out of our half because Bridgeport was pressing us. The guys were being lazy and weren’t really moving to get open. Besides those two moments that those two guys created, I didn’t feel like we were able to be up 2-0.”

Franco was quick to credit sophomore goalkeeper Hector Lozano for keeping the Leopards in the game and Bridgeport off the scoreboard in the first half.

At halftime, Franco told his team it needed to be more aggressive in the midfield, especially considering Gainesville had a numbers advantage.

“They were playing with two center midfielders and we had three and we for some reason couldn’t get the ball to our free center midfielder,” Franco said. “I didn’t like how we weren’t pressing them. We weren’t doing what we’re good at. When we lost the ball, we were kind of standing around instead of getting the ball right back and building up field.”

The junior Nevarez scored the second and third goal of the game and Franco said the team’s leading scorer has had a masterful season.

“He’s a special player,” Franco said. “He’s at 23 goals for the season and he’s just so good overall. He’s fast, he’s got good control and is smart. We know once we give him the ball that he can make something happen and that’s what happened on both his goals. He took on four players and ripped a shot on his first goal and he’s one of the better players to come through the school when it’s all said and done.”

Monsivais, the senior forward, also has a special knack for the back of the net and he opened and closed the scoring for the Leopards.

“He likes playing from the outside a little more and Gabriel sent him the ball and he had two or three players to beat,” Franco said. “He did and he was able to rip a ball inside the back post. Knowing you have those type of players that can create something out of nothing with composure is great. The combination of those two was great on the last goal too.”

Gainesville is 7-0 in district play and 17-3 overall. The Leopards will wrap up the season on the road Monday, March 15, against Burkburnett. The Leopards trounced Burkburnett 9-0 in the first matchup March 3.

Franco said the team will practice hard Friday, March 12, to stay in shape for Monday’s game, which he said should be won easily given the first matchup and Gainesville’s overall prowess.

“I felt like we were a little gassed at the end of the game, so I want to push them, especially because of spring break coming up,” Franco said. “I want to do something with some intensity because we won’t play until March 26 after Monday’s game.”

Reach Patrick Hayslip at sports@gainesvilleregister.com

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