DADE CITY — Rarely does a Land O'Lakes team stand collectively on its bench for a regular-season match. It's not often an opponent can raise the pulse of arguably the North Suncoast's most dominant program in recent years.
Yet there stood the Gators reserves Monday alongside a few managers, perched atop a metal bench inside W.F. Edwards Stadium.
Pasco, whether intentional or not, packed in its defense and Gators circled the Pirates' 18-yard line, firing balls with rare true chances on net. Instead, Pasco took advantage of one of its few opportunities — a transition play from sophomore Alex Garcia to freshman Jose Flores, who knocked it into the net for a 1-0 victory.
"We dominated that game," Land O'Lakes coach Mark Pearson said. "They (the Pirates) came away with three shots on goal, one goes in the net … They had no business winning that game whatsoever.
"It was a joke that they won."
This was the only meeting between Pasco and Land O'Lakes this season, leaving Pasco (5-0) in control of the Sunshine Athletic Conference race and arguably the team to beat on the North Suncoast after wins against Mitchell and Wesley Chapel.
The Gators (4-1-1) controlled the ball most of the game but simply could not find good shots. The best opportunity came in the 59th minute when senior Frank Villar found sophomore Nathan Dalton, who knocked a header off Pasco's crossbar and out of play.
Joke or not, Pasco is in control and has yet to lose.
"We kept on plugging at it and got them on a counterattack," Pasco coach Barry Grayling said. "They had a little more possession than us. But we weathered the storm and came up with the goal."