NEW PORT RICHEY — 86 months, 17 days.
That’s the period of time its been since River Ridge had defeated Sunlake in boys soccer. The Seahawks have always managed to get the better of the Royal Knights when it came down to regular season matches and district championship meetings.
All that changed on Friday night at Jim Valentine Athletic Complex, as River Ridge ended the drought and upended Sunlake 2-1 in overtime to claim the Class 3A, District 8 crown. River Ridge will host Pasco, who lost to Nature Coast 2-1, next week in the region quarterfinals.
River Ridge freshman Dylan Smith set up John Bomhardt’s game-winning goal five minutes into overtime.
"I didn’t think so at the beginning of the year," River Ridge coach Michael McHugh said about the team’s prospects at the beginning of the season. "Once we got to playing games, I started to see that this could be phenomenal team."
From the get go, River Ridge was in full attack mode and its shots on goal was one of the differences in the game. The Knights went into intermission with nine shots on goal compared to the Seahawks’ five.
Sunlake (22-3-2) took the lead in the 33rd minute when senior midfielder Anthony Rodrigues scored. All the memories of years past came to mind, but it never phased River Ridge (18-4) when it entered the second half.
River Ridge junior Niko Monocelli tied the game at 1-1 on a goal in the 60th minute that eventually sent the game into extra time.
"It was such a great game on both sides," McHugh said. "We got a little lucky obviously. The rivalry we have with Sunlake will always be a great game."