LAND O’LAKES — After countless hours practicing, playing in high school games and, most recently, participating in showcases over the weekend in North Carolina, the Land O’Lakes boys soccer team is looking forward to a well-deserved week off during the Thanksgiving holiday.
First things first though, the Gators had to take care of business Monday against Sunlake in an early-season district matchup.
And after shutting out the Seahawks 5-0 in a convincing victory, the Gators can enjoy their long-awaited break without a loss hanging over their heads.
“We didn’t want to drag the game out,” Land O’Lakes coach Mark Pearson said. “We wanted to start out as fast as we could, play with a real fast tempo. We did that, and it worked to our favor.”
Land O’Lakes (4-0) broke out to a 3-0 lead within the first 20 minutes. Junior Andrew Garcia latched onto the end of a pass from Frankie Pinciotti and headed it into goal less than two minutes into the contest to give the Gators a 1-0 lead.
Garcia made it 2-0 with his head again, this time off a corner kick from Justin Lyles, in the 10th minute.
“We knew we’d be tired with all the games we’ve been playing, so we tried to get out on top of them right from the beginning,” Garcia said.
The Gators added a third goal in the 20th minute when junior Joshua Davis wheeled around in the box and ripped a shot into goal.
The Gators continued applying pressure in the second half, holding possession for much of the game and constantly sending shots toward the Sunlake goal. Miguel Laliberte thwarted any Sunlake (5-2) comeback hopes when he registered the Gators’ fourth goal after corralling a loose ball in the box and slamming it home with 24 minutes to go.
Davis recorded his second goal in the game’s 74th minute for the Gators’ fifth goal.
Sunlake could never get into a rhythm offensively and rarely challenged Gators goalkeeper Kody Parker.
“They scored so quick, it just kind of broke our backs,” Sunlake coach Sam Koleduk said.