NEW PORT RICHEY — Playing Mitchell, the reigning Class 4A state champion, Pasco wanted to make a statement that it was the team to beat on the North Suncoast.
The Pirates announced their superiority Tuesday with a megaphone, at the top of their lungs.
Behind a senior front line of Eric Garcia, Daniel Corona and Daniel Cano that had defenders befuddled from the opening kick, Pasco ran over, around and through Mitchell in a surprising 8-1 blowout.
“We were ready. We talked about this one, we wanted to take it to them,” Pasco coach Barry Grayling said. “The boys wanted to make a point and come out and play some good soccer, which I think they did. It was a really good total team performance tonight.”
Garcia recorded his second hat trick in as many games. He started the rout in the early moments, slipping a shot from the right wing past Mitchell goalkeeper Brian Hoxie (six saves) to the far post in the second minute.
Pasco (2-0) increased its lead when Garcia passed to Cano, who centered to a wide-open Corona on a perfectly executed three-on-one break.
“Me and (Cano) and (Corona) have been playing together since we were little,” Garcia said. “We just know how each other plays. We’re almost brothers in a sense the way we move the ball around.”
Mitchell (2-1-1) got a goal back against the run of play when Ryan Fries sent a free kick into goal from just outside the box with 14 minutes remaining in the first half.
But Pasco, the only North Suncoast team to defeat Mitchell last season, quickly snuffed any comeback hopes in the second half. Garcia sent a through ball to Cano, who went far post to beat Hoxie in the 42nd minute. Three minutes later, Garcia scored his second goal on a breakaway.
Orlando Alcocer came off the bench to score the Pirates’ fifth goal on a wicked low line drive through traffic and added another goal in the closing minutes. Garcia earned his hat trick on a one-timer in the 69th minute, and Cristian Virgen got on the scoring sheet in the 74th minute.