BROOKSVILLE — With both Nature Coast and Sunlake returning to the postseason for consecutive seasons, only one would make a trip to the sweet 16.
Thursday night in the Class 3A region quarterfinals, Nature Coast shut out the Seahawks 3-0 to stamp its ticket to the next round.
“We weren’t as consistent as I’d like us to be,” Nature Coast coach Lisa Masserio said. “We showed spurts (Thursday night), but the girls are going to have to be a little more focused (in the next round).”
The victory makes it three straight years that the Sharks (20-3-1) have won at least one game in the state playoffs. The win also continued a tough slide for Sunlake (16-5-3) in similar circumstances. The Seahawks have been shut out the past two seasons in the first round. The program is 0-6 against Nature Coast, being outscored 37-0.
It took 17 minutes for Nature Coast to finally crack into the scoring column. Kendal Worden lobbed a touch pass over the top to Jayna Tyler. Tyler lined a shot past Seahawks keeper Landon Carter (four saves). Worden also assisted on every other Sharks’ goal, giving her a team-leading 14.
“Even though she’s only a freshman, Jayna and I clicked almost immediately,” Worden said. “I just do the best I can to create for my teammates.”
Sunlake dominated time of possession, getting off 15 shots to only eight for the home team. But Nature Coast keeper Samantha Oliveira completed her 12th shutout of the campaign by making 10 saves, including a flurry in the second half.
The Sharks pulled away with a stellar goal from Hailey LaLande, her 26th of the year, and a second from Tyler, her 16th.