BROOKSVILLE — A matchup that was closer during the regular season was not so close the third time around. Land O'Lakes (21-2-2) captured its fifth straight district championship, led by Felix Soto's four goals to defeat River Ridge 6-2 in the Class 5A, District 7 championship Friday night.
"The kid is a champion," Gators coach Mark Pearson said of Soto.
"I don't know any athlete in our county's history who has won as many championships as he has between cross country and soccer."
Soto did not do it alone though, as midfielders Dominic Cutrofello (one goal, two assists) and Sebastian Garcia contributed in the dominating win.
The Royal Knights (12-9-1) took the lead early on a goal from forward John Linville, who got behind the Gators' defense and put it by goalkeeper Alex Spock (three saves) for the 1-0 advantage with 35:28 left in the first half.
But Land O'Lakes responded nineteen 19 minutes later with a breakaway goal from Cutrofello to even the game at 1. Soto added a goal before the half to give the Gators the edge.
After halftime was a different story as Soto exploded for three goals, highlighted by his third goal that featured a long pass from Alex Ratkovic to give Land O'Lakes a commanding 4-2 lead.
The Gators had myriad shots on goal, as they outshot the Knights 27-6.
"Everybody was talking about how we lost to River Ridge earlier in the year but we put that in the past and won tonight," Soto said.
"We just want to get past regionals this year."