In their opening round playoff game against Carrollton Ranchview, the Gainesville Lady Leopards soccer team was in position to advance, holding a 2-1 lead in the second half.

Unfortunately, Ranchview scored the final two goals of the game, including the game-winner with 12 minutes left in the game to eliminate Gainesville and end the Lady Leopards’ season.

Head coach Danny Franco said the team played well for the majority of the game, but a few critical lapses were the difference.

“I thought we had a lot of good moments,” Franco said. “We did some good things, but at the end of the day, we couldn’t contain their two attackers. We couldn’t slow them down. It’s frustrating and we couldn’t get the job done. We couldn’t get the ball off them. They were always open.”

Gainesville trailed 1-0, but responded with two goals to take the 2-1 advantage to halftime, where Franco told his team to keep doing what got them the lead late in the half.

“We started dominating possession and we were patient,” Franco said. “We were more patient and found more opportunities. We shot from distance and that’s something we’ve done all season long. We had to keep the same intensity with movement and wanting the ball. We had to take opportunities when we were on their end.”

Sophomore forward Olivia Vasquez had the first goal with a shot from 20 yards out. She caught the Ranchview keeper napping and punched it in to tie the game at 1-1.

On the second goal, junior defender Michelle Fernandez sent a pass to junior midfielder Angelina Arenas, who finished off the play with an accurate shot.

To have the lead at halftime after trailing 1-0 gave Franco and the team a lot of confidence.

“I thought we reacted well and we deserved the lead going into halftime,” Franco said. “We didn’t get our head down and we got back in the game.”

The final two goals from Ranchview were well-placed shots that Franco said were a product of good transition from Ranchview.

“The second goal, we lost the ball in the midfield,” Franco said. “They played it to their forward and she dribbled and had a good shot. The third goal was similar.”

Junior keeper Iris Castriuta made some good saves, Franco said, and that the goals Ranchview scored were shots that most keepers couldn’t get to.

“She had a good game and a good season stepping in goal,” Franco said. “Overall, I’m happy with how she played.”

Gainesville finished second in district play with a 3-2-2 record and Franco said with how high expectations were along with several key injuries and quarantine issues, the season had trouble picking up momentum.

“We were very inconsistent and that hurt us down the stretch,” Franco said. “It was always an up-and-down season. It’s tough for these seniors because they started with me when I took this job. It’s tough because when we started, the program was kind of down and they were able to revive the program and get us to where we belong. It’s tough to go out this way, but I’m proud of the four years they brought.”

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