The Gainesville Leopards soccer team finally suffered its first loss of the season and it came at the hands of an old rival.
The Leopards fell 2-1 to Argyle at Leopard Stadium on Friday, Feb. 1 and as soon as the game came to an end, several players joined their team with anger and disappointment.
Senior goalkeeper Chuy Torres asked why his team couldn’t play in the first half the way they played in the second half.
Another player exclaimed, “this is a wake-up call, guys.”
Make no mistake, Gainesville head coach Andrew Kimmel was upset about the loss, but he was also slightly happy about the gut check the Leopards just received.
“Anytime you’re on an unbeaten run, you start to feel a little invincible and that’s a dangerous thing,” Kimmel said. “Again, if we’re playing well in both halves, I’m OK with win streaks if we’re playing well, but the last couple games we’ve come out slow and it’s hurt. This game we came out a little slow and we were slow to react and it hurt us. So I’m glad for the boys to see that there are consequences.”
Argyle had a 1-0 lead before scoring on a free kick from 40 yards out with 22 minutes left in the game.
Gainesville finally broke the shutout as Erick Rios Suarez received a long, lead pass from the left side of the midfield and slid it past the out-of-position Argyle keeper to cut the lead to 2-1 with nine minutes left.
Torres made a diving save to his right two minutes later, but the Leopards couldn’t score the tying goal.
Seeing what the Leopards didn’t do well was another positive consequence from Friday’s game according to Kimmel.
“Every time you have a loss, you’ve got to take something from it,” Kimmel said. “We’re definitely going to do that, but I am certainly not pleased with the loss. Tonight, we didn’t have a lot of chances. Things I saw from our guys was Argyle’s outside midfielders were really involved in the attack. And that’s a scheme thing. We just didn’t have a lot of chances tonight and that’s something that I need to go back and look at the film and ask myself, why was that?”
Kimmel also stressed to his team that they needed to focus on the minute details of the game and preparation.
“So these are high school boys,” Kimmel said. “They like to take their time and be on their phones and go through the motions. When things get tough, like the weight room or sprints, it’s important to remind them that those things count. You have to ask yourself, are you doing everything you need to be doing to get us past the third round of the playoffs?”
The Leopards’ next contest is a road test against Wichita Falls Rider on Friday, Feb. 8.
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip