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Saturday May 8th, 2021 11:42AM

Boys soccer playoffs: GAC steals road win from Warriors

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

CLEVELAND — It’s always the little things that matter most in the playoffs.

Two breakdowns in an otherwise superb defensive effort cost the White County boys a chance to continue their best-ever season in a gut-wrenching 3-2 loss to Greater Atlanta Christian on Tuesday in the second round of the Class 3A playoffs.

“I really thought our defense played very well the entire game,” White County coach Jon Leventhal said. “But a couple of tiny mistakes was the difference. But the second one really looked like it was offsides (on GAC) but we didn’t get the call.”

The Spartans (7-8-1) countered the Warriors offsides trap defense with two long ball passes behind the defense that ended in goals. The first came in the opening minute. The second came just a minute after White County had battled back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game with 8:27 left.

In between, the Warriors (12-5) dominated the time of possession and outshot the Spartans 9-1. But also in between was the loss of senior scorer Hayden Gansler, who received a red card with 10 minutes left in the first half and White County trailing 2-0.

“Well, that was a big loss but we’ve been down guys before this year and found ways to come back,” Leventhal said. “The kids played hard and didn't get down and fought back to tie it.”

Taking advantage of the Warriors offsides trap, GAC’s Damola Salami chipped a shot over the defense and Warriors keeper Tristan Morris in the opening minute. After a steal of the kickoff, GAC struck again just moments later when White County was called for a penalty in the box. Cole Bryant converted the PK for a 2-0 lead just 100 seconds into the contest.

After the Spartans' initial blitz, the two teams countered back and forth with neither generating much offense. The biggest play was Gensler’s red card as the match went to the half with GAC leading 2-0.

In the second half, the Warriors pressed the attack almost from the start getting six quality shots in the opening 17 minutes. They finally broke through in the 60th minute when Joseph Kahle slammed home a shot from 5-yards following a scramble in front of the net off a throw-in to cut the lead to 2-1.

In the 72nd minute, White County finally got the equalizer when Andrew Pierce redirected a free-kick from Cohen Cantrell to tie the game. But the Spartans struck back quickly.

Joshua Gonzalez gathered a long bouncing pass and caught the Warriors off-guard as Morris was forced to try and snare the ball as Gonzalez dribbled into the box. But Gonzalez was able to side-step Morris and buried the game-winner into an empty net with 7:33 left.

“These kids fought all year and had the best season in program history,” Leventhal said. “This is a tough loss but they have a lot to be proud of as a group.”

GAC moves on to the quarterfinals.


SECOND ROUND SOCCER SCOREBOARD, Tuesday, April 27
(Games listed by date and classification, highest to smallest)
(Games listed by visiting team in alphabetical order)
(Area teams highlighted in bold)

CLASS 5A
Johnson boys 5, Cass 1

CLASS 3A
Westminster boys 4, Cherokee Bluff 1
Greater Atlanta Christian boys  3, White County 2
Greater Atlanta Christian girls 4, Lumpkin County 0

CLASS A PUBLIC
Towns County boys 5, Armuchee 0
Georgia Military boys 10, Commerce 0


SECOND ROUND SOCCER 
(Games listed by date and classification, highest to smallest)
(Games listed by visiting team in alphabetical order)
(Area teams highlighted in bold)

Wednesday, April 28
CLASS 6A
Habersham Central boys (R8, S3) at Johns Creek (R7, S1), 8 p.m.


Thursday, April 29
CLASS 4A
Chestatee boys (R8, S3) at Southeast Whitfield (R7, S1), 6 p.m.
Flowery Branch boys (R8, S4) at Northwest Whitfield (R7, S2), 6 p.m.
Druid Hills boys (R6, S2) at East Hall (R8, S1), 7:30 p.m.
Jefferson boys (R8, S2) at Marist (R6, S1), 7 p.m.

CLASS 2A
Lovett boys (R6, S2) at Union County (R8, S1), 6 p.m.
Riverside Military boys (R8, S2) at Pace Academy (R6, S1), TBD

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