Make us your home page
Instagram

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

District soccer: Land O'Lakes wastes little time taking control

ZEPHYRHILLS —Looks like Land O'Lakes take messages to heart.

Exhorted to get an early jump on rival Sunlake, the Gators could not have carried through that charge any better. Samantha Epifanio scored 52 seconds in and Land O'Lakes controlled the action for a 4-0 win Friday. The 3A-8 district championship is the third title in a row for the Gators and ninth overall.

Catherine Gray broke in down the left sideline to slide a cross to Epifanio, a freshman whose speed harassed Sunlake's defense much of the night.

"Well, we said to score early. Luckily we did because you never know if they're going to get nervous, maybe feel the pressure of districts," said Gators coach Vicky King.

Turned out she had nothing to fear. Land O'Lakes (23-1) outshot the Seahawks 25-3. The three meetings between the schools have gotten progressively less competitive this season.

"When you lose your best player (Cassidy Place) to graduation and two of your other best get hurt (Emily Higgins, Cassidy Kallenborn), it makes it tough," said Sunlake coach Jami Finan. "Those freshmen out there tonight played extremely hard."

Place went the early-graduation route to Saint Leo but was on the sideline serving as an assistant. Sunlake's top remaining player, Carly Hill, sat out the first 25 minutes with a hyperextended knee suffered Monday. She gave it a go but was clearly not at full speed.

In addition freshman defender Maddisen Traver was sick She tried to play after a rough halftime but Finan pulled her immediately.

The only thing slowing the top-seeded Gators was Sunlake freshman goalie Landon Carter. She made nine saves in the second half alone, and twice got help from teammates Traver and Emma Hanyok (another freshman) clearing shots off the line.

One of Carter's better saves came in the 32nd minute on a rocket shot by Victoria Cannata, but on the resulting corner kick Lacy Nasello banged home a header for 2-0. Nasello has been the defensive leader since joining the team in December after a dislocated knee.

"I think that (time off) has given her more energy. She gives us a little spark out there," King said.

Cannata put quality shots on goal all night before solving Carter in the 65th minute on a breakaway. Lindsay Pearl's rebound goal capped scoring.

Sunlake (16-4-3) still makes the playoffs and was somewhat surprised to learn its opponent would be Nature Coast, after the Sharks upset top-seeded Hudson in 3A-7. That sets up Land O'Lakes to host Hudson.

District soccer: Land O'Lakes wastes little time taking control 01/17/14 [Last modified: Friday, January 17, 2014 10:31pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. How good is Florida Gators' Jim McElwain? We're about to find out

    College

    The Gators' offense comes down to how head coach Jim McElwain handles the quarterback battle between Zaire and redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks. [ANDRES LEIVA | Times]
  2. Officially official: Malik Zaire, Jake Fruhmorgen join Florida Gators

    Blogs

    It's finally, officially official: Malik Zaire has joined the Florida Gators.

  3. Is this Dave Andreychuk's Hall of Fame year? Doubtful

    Blogs

    The Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2017 will be announced at 3 p.m. today. It's a downright crime that former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk still isn't in, and his chances today are iffy with those in the first year of eligibility, including Daniel Alfredsson and Teemu Selanne. Others …

    Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk is 14th on the all-time goals list with 614.
  4. College World Series: Gators, LSU face off in all-SEC finals

    College

    OMAHA, Neb. — The matchup for the College World Series finals bolsters the case for those who say the best baseball in the land is played in the SEC.

    Florida’s Brady Singer, delivering during a CWS win over Louisville last week, is scheduled to start tonight against LSU.
  5. Jones: Fox Sports Sun shows depth in Rays coverage

    TV and Radio

    tom jones' two cents

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (3) makes a run home for a score in the in the final game of a three-game series between the Tampa Bay Rays and AL East rival the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, June 25, 2017.