WESLEY CHAPEL — There will be no repeat of Sunlake’s perfect regular season. Down 2-0 to a Seahawks team that had surrendered one goal all season, host Wiregrass Ranch came back to force a 2-2 tie Monday.
Tristan Hart’s goal with five minutes remaining secured the exciting draw for the Bulls (5-0-1), who wanted to prove they were on par with the county’s best.
“Even before the game we knew we could compete with anybody,” said Bryce Wilson, who had Wiregrass’ first goal in the 56th minute. “Sunlake is one of the best teams in the state.”
Sunlake went 25-0 last regular season en route to the state semifinals. Wiregrass Ranch has been to the playoffs only once in its history but after Monday’s showing certainly looks headed back in that direction.
The key moment came late in the first half when one of Sunlake’s best players got the boot. Connor Spencer, frustrated over not getting a foul call, uttered a couple of profanities that earned him a red card.
“That was huge,” acknowledged Wiregrass coach Dave Wilson. “It not only put them down a man, but he’s such a big player for them.”
Still the Seahawks (6-0-1) managed to expand their 1-0 halftime lead, when Joe Ditroia’s perfect pass set up Austin Goble for a goal in the 52nd minute.
“I definitely didn’t think we had it even then because we were playing down a man,” Ditroia said.
He was right. Wiregrass kept feeding the ball down the flanks and eventually wore down Sunlake. Both goals came on crosses from the right wing. First Andy Hippley headed it over Wilson, who took one dribble and drilled it past Danny Hrenko in the 61st minute. Hart’s tying goal, his fourth of the year, was a volley off Brendan Duran’s feed into the box.
“Both goals were great plays by them,” said Sunlake’s Chris Wilkinson.
Cobi Shermo opened the scoring for Sunlake, which despite losing a chance at another spotless regular season will take the draw.
“It’s a good quality result,” said coach Sam Kodeluk. “With 10 guys, we’ll take it. Our last three games have been 8-0. Any time you play a good opponent like this it’s a good thing.”