LAND O'LAKES — Jake Frahm may have involuntarily sacrificed his face Wednesday, and possibly a rib or two.
Land O'Lakes was awarded a penalty kick inside River Ridge's penalty area after the takedown, and Justin Lyles hammered home the opportunity for a 1-0 victory.
Frahm's status is in question for Friday's Class 4A, District 8 title game against Wiregrass Ranch. The Bulls advanced after defeating Nature Coast 3-0.
"He may have a broken nose or a broken rib," Gators coach Mark Pearson said. "He's having a hard time breathing. … It proved to be the difference."
River Ridge (10-5-2) had its best opportunity in the first 40 minutes when senior John Linville took a breakaway in on Gators keeper Kody Parker, but fired wide left of the goal.
The Gators (16-3-2) almost scored one more in the first half, but senior Jon Wilkinson hit the crossbar with less than three minutes in the first half.
"The last three years they've ended our district tournament, the last two in the district final," River Ridge coach Mike McHugh said. "… They broke our hearts again."
In the early game, the Bulls clinched their first playoff berth, one day after winning their first district tournament game.
The Bulls (18-3-2) took advantage of two first-half goals. The first was set up on a pass from Levi Davidson and flicked off the head of Steven Esoff for his 33rd goal of the season. The Bulls made it 2-0 when Colton Leist poked a ball past Sharks keeper Jared Sandifer.
Nature Coast (6-14-1) tried to battle back with strong play up front from Cameron Lachlan, but were unable to break through against keeper Chris Madden.
The Bulls capitalized once more on a goal by Danny Diaz.
"When you're the new school you get beat up on, but you get better," Bulls coach David Wilson said. "Getting the No. 2 seed was big for us."
Izzy Gould can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 421-3886.