BROOKSVILLE — Big saves and clutch scoring were part of River Ridge's 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Central (12-6), which earned the Royal Knights a spot in the 5A, District 7 final Friday night against Land O'Lakes. The Gators defeated Ridgewood 8-0 in 64 minutes of play.
Down 1-0 and short a player because of a red card on forward Alex Ratkovic, River Ridge (12-8-1) capitalized with a late second-half goal. Ratkovic received the red card because of an excessive celebration after scoring the tying goal with 9:39 left.
The Royal Knights took the lead when senior defender Joey Balsamo headed in a goal on a throw-in from teammate Jason Manaras.
"It feels great," River Ridge coach Michael McHugh said. "We have never won here. At least in the four years I have been here we have not.
"It is a daunting task this Friday night, but we know what we need to do to win."
Land O'Lakes (20-2-2) dominated Ridgewood from the outset and never let up. The Gators had three players — Felix Soto, Tyler Horvath and Dominic Cutrofello — score two goals each and held the Rams (4-21) to one shot through the 64 minutes.
"We came out and did well," Land O'Lakes coach Mark Pearson said. "I told the boys to take a lot of shots tonight and we got to work on a lot of things tonight.
"I expect a great game Friday night from either team."