HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS SOCCER
Season over for Gainesville in playoff loss to Navarre
Published: Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 11:25 p.m.
After the opening 40 minutes at Citizens Field on Thursday night, Gainesville's seniors felt the first postseason match of their high school careers would be far from their last.
Heading into halftime, the host Hurricanes held a 2-1 advantage over Navarre, courtesy of a perfectly placed Delilah Allen corner kick to tie the visitors in the 19th minute and a 20-yard strike by fellow senior Casey Troiano nearly 10 minutes later, but their sudden hold on the lead would be short-lived.
The stunned Raiders took control in the second half of the Region 1-4A quarterfinal, scoring three straight goals to earn a 4-2 comeback win and end Gainesville's first playoff appearance since 2008.
“You have to give credit to Navarre because they did a good job to fight back,” first-year GHS coach Pedro Rodrigues said. “With those big girls and those physical sides, they can sometimes get the best of us because we still have a younger side. You can see the size difference.”
Facing a team with 11 seniors, Gainesville's two upperclassmen provided early answers on their limited chances in Navarre's defensive third. The Hurricanes had just three shots on goal in the first half and found the back of the net on two.
On her team's first corner kick of the game, Allen sent a line-drive service into the box met by junior defender Kelly Gordon, who headed the ball into the right side of the goal. Troiano's score was also set up from outside the penalty box, as junior Ashley Markant found her fellow forward more than 20 yards away from the net for a booming shot past the goalkeeper's hands.
“We played poorly in the first half, and we went in and fixed some things on the board that were happening with the midfield,” NHS coach Rob Simon said. “In the second half, I think our girls just stepped up. It's one of those things where it just takes that one (goal).”
Navarre (16-4-3) found its answer in the 58th minute with senior forward Jade Whitley's second goal of the night to tie Gainesville (10-4-3) at 2-apiece after a scrum in front of the net.
The Raiders, who advance to Tuesday's regional semifinal at Pace, reclaimed the lead in the 74th, when sophomore Melia Gross buried a 10-yarder into left corner, and added an insurance score two minutes later on a header from senior midfielder Hannah Gullickson.
“We got tired and this is the best team we've played against all year,” Allen said. “So it's kind of hard to keep our stamina up playing against a team that is so technical. We got too comfortable.”