Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

5A semifinal: LOL foiled by Freedom once again

TAMPA — Some of these Land O'Lakes seniors will one day tell their kids how they ruled the soccer fields of Pasco County.

They'll talk of their dominance in 46 wins in two seasons.

Inevitably, some will ask about the five losses and how any team could possibly defeat such a juggernaut.

That's when they'll remember Freedom, the only team to do it twice.

The Patriots knocked Land O'Lakes out of the playoffs Tuesday with a solid 6-2 victory. It was the second time in two season Freedom ended the Gators' season.

"Tonight we got beat for the first time in a very long time," Gators coach Mark Pearson said. "We gave up six goals for the first time in (a long time). We didn't do anything we talked about doing in the game."

Land O'Lakes (22-3-2) walked away from last year's 1-0 loss in the region quarterfinal believing the loss was a fluke.

Freedom (15-2-5) left no doubt Tuesday night.

The Patriots were led by junior Taylor Nalls, who scored the first three Freedom goals for the second hat trick of his high school career. The first came off some nifty passing sparked by senior Deion Jones. He worked the ball to senior Manny Martes, who fed Nalls for the 1-0 lead in the 13th minute.

Then in the 22nd minute, Gators keeper Alex Spock made a diving save on a penalty kick that on any other night might have sparked a comeback.

Instead, Nalls made it 2-0 in the 35th minute, knocking home a rebound to head into halftime.

Land O'Lakes scored in the 64th minute on a penalty kick by Dominic Cutrofello. Then trailing 5-1, senior Felix Soto floated one in for the final goal of his career.

The Gators ended their 11th playoff appearance in 12 years with their first region semifinal berth since 2005 when they reached the region final.

Land O'Lakes2

5A semifinal: LOL foiled by Freedom once again 02/10/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 10, 2009 10:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  2. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Jake Odorizzi admitted he probably should have gone on the DL sooner than late July for the back stiffness that was keeping him from throwing the ball where he wanted to. He has since found an impressive groove, with another strong outing Saturday.

  4. Matt Baker's takeaways from Florida State-N.C. State


    RB Cam Akers still looks like a former high school quarterback at times. His first two touches (30 yards) were special, but the freshman juked instead of powering ahead on his third (an unsuccessful third-and-1 rush). That's why the Seminoles are easing him in, as they did with Dalvin Cook three years ago.

    Running back Cam Akers carries for a first down during the third quarter as FSU eases the freshman into the college game.
  5. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.