Sunday September 24th, 2017 10:03AM

Soccer: Lady Red Elephants knocked from postseason via second-half blitz

By Morgan Lee Sports Editor
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GAINESVILLE -- A young Gainesville girls soccer team learned what coach Mark Wade hopes is a valuable lesson on Wednesday:

Don't let up in a playoff game -- not even for a few minutes.

The Lady Red Elephants let their pace drop after an end-to-end first half of a Class AAAAA playoff game with Lakeside, DeKalb and suffered the consequences in a 5-0 defeat at City Park.

The visiting Lady Vikings scored all five goals inside the final 21 minutes -- each from a different player -- to knock Gainesville (12-4-2) from the postseason.

"We lost our focus in the second half; we started being second to every 50/50 ball," Wade said. "In the playoffs you can't let down at all or that's what happens. Now we'll try and regroup for next season."

For much of the first half it looked as if the Lady Red Elephants' season would extend to at least one more game, as Gainesville pushed the attack and even had a goal from Alyssa Turner disallowed for offside.

The second half proved a different story, however, as the Lady Vikings (10-7-1) began to take control and push Gainesville's midfield -- led by Anna Youmans and Jazmin Penado -- back into its own half.

"I really didn't think we came out of the half very good," Wade said. "I don't want to blame it on being young. We just didn't maintain our focus."

Lady Red Elephants defender Elizabeth Duncan cleared one Lakeside shot off her own goal line with 31 minutes left to play -- though teammate Alden Turner produced a near miss of her own just two minutes later, firing wide of the Lady Vikings goal from 18 yards.

Nine minutes later, however, things began to fall apart for Gainesville.

Lakeside broke the deadlock midway through the second half, as Ashley Graham found yards of space inside the Gainesville penalty area. Vikings teammate Shannon Hagopian controlled a skidding ball and slid a pass to Graham, who rolled her shot into the left side of the goal for a 1-0 lead with 20:09 remaining.

The strike only invigorated the visitors' attack, and six minutes later Lakeside doubled its advantage when Grace Clark chipped a perfect, curling free kick off the Lady Red Elephants' crossbar and into the next for a 2-0 lead.

The Vikings weren't finished, however, and continued their goal onslaught, notching a 3-0 advantage on Brittanie Evans' strike with 11:48 left to play -- the midfielder rising to power home a header on a corner kick.

Not even a minute later, Hagopian got in on the act, bursting past a defender and slotting a 16-yard shot into the Gainesville goal for a 4-0 lead. Megan Arogeti chipped in with a long-range strike of her own with 2:46 remaining to make it 5-0.

"We're a pretty good offensive team, and once we got the first goal we showed it," Lakeside coach Tom Collop said. "We have seven losses but we've played the six No. 1-ranked teams in each classification.

"We really set the tempo today and didn't let Gainesville gain any momentum and run at us. They're a dangerous team when they get going forward, but we didn't really allow that. We man marked better today than we have all season and started winning most of the 50/50s."

Wade hopes his Lady Red Elephants, who graduate just two players -- captain Youmans and starting goalkeeper Ashlie Gonzalez -- will use the outcome as motivation.

"It's going to be up to them; the 2015 season will start for us next week when we meet up to discuss what we're going to do this summer," Wade said. "The good thing is that they're the hardest-working group I've ever had, and hopefully we can take a big step forward."
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