LAND O’LAKES — Fourth-year Sunlake has not had much of a rivalry with neighboring Land O’Lakes, but that might change soon.
The host Seahawks struck first Wednesday night and hung on for a 1-1 tie in a Class 3A, District 7 matchup. That marked their first tie with the Gators, a team they have never beaten.
“For us it’s huge,” Sunlake coach Sam Koleduk said. “I feel this year we’re dead even with them.”
Sunlake (2-0-1, 1-0-1) opened the scoring when Conner Gilboy kicked in a ball off a goal-mouth scramble in the 15th minute for his fourth goal of the season.
Land O’Lakes (2-1-1, 1-0-1) got the equalizer from a former Sunlake player. Miguel Laliberte, a senior in his second season with the Gators, tallied his third of the season in the 31st minute when he finished off a nice cross from Josh Davis.
Less than a minute later, the Gators nearly got another one, but Sunlake goalkeeper Brandon Jungbauer charged out of his net to smother a point-blank shot from Pat Lawson.
Neither team could muster a decent scoring chance the rest of the way. Sunlake had the best opportunity when Gilboy was awarded a penalty kick less than three minutes after the break. Gilboy’s blast clanked off the crossbar before it deflected off Land O’Lakes keeper Mitchell McCuen.
Land O’Lakes coach Mark Pearson was clearly frustrated with Sunlake’s long-ball tactics.
“We had good possessions for the most part, but when you’re playing against a team that wants to kick the daylights out of the ball it’s difficult to maintain possession,” he said.
“I was pleased with our guys tonight,” Koleduk said. “There were not many real easy scoring chances.”