The Gainesville boys soccer team battled for 80 minutes but couldn’t break down an organized St. Pius defense en route to a 2-0 loss on Wednesday in Atlanta.

The defeat knocked the Red Elephants (15-4) out of the playoffs and ensured there will be a new Class AAA champ in 2011.

“I’m proud of the way we fought, and I hurt for the boys,” Gainesville coach Rick Howard said. “Give credit to St. Pius. They were very well-organized and well-coached.”

The Golden Lions (17-0-1) scored on a free kick midway through the first half and led 1-0 at halftime. The Red Elephants pushed forward in search of an equalizer in the second half and were caught on defense late in the contest, giving up a second goal with 1:30 left to play.

“We fell short of what we wanted to do this season,” Howard said. “But our seniors have had a great four years here, and in January we’ll start it back up again and see where we are.”

Gainesville graduates five seniors but returns the bulk of a team that finished second in Region 8-AAA this season.

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