LAND O’LAKES — Since Sunlake’s inception in 2007, boys soccer coach Sam Koleduk has watched his team’s steady growth.
In their first season the Seahawks took their bumps and bruises and racked up a 7-12-4 record. Year 2 provided more encouraging results, a 11-11-2 mark, and last season Sunlake finished one win shy of 20. But the Seahawks were bounced out of the first round of districts last year.
Tonight, Sunlake can add another milestone to an already surprising season by advancing to the second round of the 4A playoffs — if it knocks off an equally surprising opponent in Hudson, which surprised Pasco 2-0 Friday.
“I think playing Hudson is a huge game for both schools,” Koleduk said. “I think the schedule is going to be the difference for (tonight). We played Land O’Lakes three times and Pasco once, so we’ve had a pretty tough schedule.
“It’s huge to the guys to leave their legacies by earning that postseason win. It would also be huge for us in building for the future if we could win.”
A key building block the past four seasons is senior forward Jordan Landry, who this season scored his 100th goal. This season he accumulated 47 goals, 17 assists and 111 points and is planning to contribute to the Seahawks’ first postseason appearance.
“Our dream is to pretty much win this game,” Landry said. “It’s going to be a fun matchup. I didn’t really expect us to be in the playoffs this year, but the team has really come together this season. We all hang out together and we’re more serious about everything, unlike past years.
“It’s been very satisfying knowing that I’ve been one of the leaders since the school has opened.”
But it hasn’t been all Landry this season, as Sunlake sports one of the county’s more youthful squads, starting four freshmen and two sophomores, including standout midfielder Conner Gilboy. As opponents focus their attention on Landry, Gilboy has made the most of his opportunities by scoring 14 goals and setting a school record for assists with 24.
“He’s a true right winger,” Koleduk said of Landry. “He stays wide and gets the ball wide or shoots. He definitely complements Jordan very well.
"I think he’s one of the best right midfielders in the county. Next year he will probably will move up top and fill in Jordan’s spot. Jordan and Connor are pretty close, but the whole team is pretty close and that’s been a really cool thing to see.”
Sunlake will be playing tonight with heavy hearts versus Hudson. Seahawks senior football player Alex Rodriguez, a close friend to many Sunlake soccer players, died Tuesday night. The team will wear orange armbands in its first postseason matchup in memory of Rodriguez.
“I’m playing (tonight’s) game for Alex,” Landry said. “I never would have expected this in a million years. We grew up in the same neighborhood together and played football and soccer together sometimes. He’ll be watching over Sunlake and us tomorrow.”