WESLEY CHAPEL — In the first three matchups between River Ridge and Wiregrass Ranch, goals were hardly at a premium as both teams combined to score 24 goals in those games.
Something had to give in the 4A region semifinal between the district rivals Tuesday. While the teams have Pasco County's top goal scorers, it was Wiregrass' A.J. Blount who rose to the occasion, scoring two goals and lifting the Bulls to a 2-1 victory over River Ridge and their first region finals appearance.
"It's always a nerve-wracking game against River Ridge," Wiregrass coach Erin Dodd said. "I don't think I sat down once. We just had a little bit more heart tonight. We had a little more intensity, an extra step. Oh, and having A.J. doesn't hurt."
Blount, who has scored 40 goals this season, gave Wiregrass (23-2-2) the lead in the 36th minute off a chip shot over the head of River Ridge goalkeeper Lisa Jadick (five saves).
River Ridge (21-4-2) had its best opportunity to tie the game on a breakaway by forward Jessica Tata, who launched at shot that ricocheted off the left crossbar in the 51st minute and left the Knights searching for an equalizer.
That goal would never come, as Blount dashed away any hopes River Ridge had by knocking home her second goal in the 76th minute. The Knights got their lone goal in the 86th minute from senior midfielder Taylor Antioco.
The Bulls' first region final appearance is just another mark in their milestone season that includes reaching their first postseason, claiming their first district title and winning their first playoff game.