NEW PORT RICHEY — From the beginning, Mitchell had every edge.
The Mustangs were undefeated and ranked tops in their district. They were hosting, and the stands were packed with fans. They’d already beaten Sickles (8-5-1) 4-1 earlier this season.
The Mustangs (22-0) proved they earned those advantages with a 5-0 shutout Friday to be crowned 4A-8 district champions.
“Every single player on this team has scored at least one goal and has several assists,” Mitchell coach Karl Kukec said. “When we’re on the field, we’re a team. They’re all one team.”
Thursday, the Mustangs host Lakeland in the 4A region quarterfinals. Sickles will head to Winter Haven.
Noah Stokes scored the first goal of the game in the fifth minute. No one else was near the goal box when she lobbed the ball high. It sailed over keeper Brooke Salas’ head and into the back of the net, giving the Mustangs an early lead.
UConn commit Danielle Gottwik scored nine minutes later. She and Salas stood practically nose-to-nose when Gottwik tapped the ball, nudging it past the line.
The Mustangs were granted a penalty kick in the 27th minute after a collision of players near Sickles’ goal box. Sabrina Wagner sank the shot, giving the Mustangs a 3-0 lead they would take into halftime.
Baylor Cherry dashed in for a kick that had Mitchell fans cheering in the 47th minute, thinking they’d scored again, but the ball bounced off the crossbar. Just a few seconds later, Wagner sank another shot.
With less than 17 minutes left, Brooke Snoll came up from the keeper’s right side and kicked the ball high. It looked like it would sail over, but hit the back corner of the net.
Sickles’ keepers had their work cut out for them. Salas had 10 saves before Erin Garcia was subbed in with 29 minutes left. Garcia added another nine.
Kukec said the Mustangs will continue to prepare for the tournament as they’ve practiced all season.
“We’re going to play our game,” Kukec said. “And we’re going to force them to play our game.”