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)

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

  1. 247Sports: Berkeley Prep's Nicholas Petit-Frere top OT in nation


    Berkeley Prep offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere already is widely considered the best player in Tampa Bay.

    Berkeley Prep rising senior defensive end Nicholas Petit-Frere (78) performs a pad drill during spring football practice at Berkeley Prep in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, May 12, 2017.
  2. Full disclosure: My AP Top 25 ballot


    Now that you've seen the preseason AP Top 25, here's what I submitted in my first year as a voter. The AP doesn't give us many guidelines in the preseason. I didn't try to predict how …

  3. AP Top 25: Alabama first, FSU, UF, Miami and USF all in top 20


    As expected, Alabama will start the season at No. 1 in the AP Top 25.

  4. HomeTeam 25: Football rankings for Tampa Bay


    Armwood High School quarterback Devin Black (7) hands the ball off to running back Larry Anderson (13) during the Spring Football Jamboree in Seffner, Fla. on Thursday, May 18, 2017.
  5. Ex-Florida Gators QB Treon Harris will start at Tennessee State


    Former Florida Gators quarterback Treon Harris is a starter again.

    At Tennessee State.