The Winder-Barrow High School varsity boys’ soccer team took a 1-0 lead against visiting Gainesville High School on Tuesday, March 10, and then made that slim margin hold up.

The Bulldoggs (7-3 overall, 3-1 GHSA Region 8-AAAAAA) stayed near the top of the region standings and will now prepare for a key local showdown with region rival Apalachee High School on Friday, March 13.

After a scoreless 12 minutes to open the match, WBHS broke the ice with a goal from Santiago Orozco with 27:46 remaining in the first half. That advantage held up for the remainder of the first 40 minutes and through the entire second half.

“We really needed this win,” Bulldogg coach Levi Karas said. “However, we didn’t really play that well overall, especially in the second half. If we want to win region, we will definitely have to play better. We played OK in the first half, but it’s like we were just holding on in the second half.”

Leading 1-0 at halftime, the Bulldoggs continued to play tough defense, turning away three Gainesville scoring tries in the first four minutes of the second half.

Both teams had scoring opportunities but were unable to cash in.

Connor Giddons had a solid look at a possible goal for the Bulldoggs with 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Brian Villanueva almost gave the Bulldoggs a two-goal lead with 23 minutes remaining in the opening half but his attempt just missed.

Caylan Barron turned in a strong first half, including three key saves in the last two minutes, helping keep the Elephants (5-3-1, 1-2) off the board. Barron also made several stops in the final minutes of the match with Gainesville to prevent overtime.

Friday’s match at Apalachee is set for 7:30 p.m.

“We’ll have two Barrow County teams battling for the top of the standings,” Karas said. “That’s a good thing for local soccer. It will take a better performance, however, for us to have a chance. If we play this way on Friday, Apalachee is going to run away with the match.”

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