LAND O'LAKES — Blame the goalkeepers for playing so well.
Blame Thanksgiving and a prestigious club tournament for keeping some key players off the grass. Whatever the complaint, there's nothing too appetizing about a scoreless finish.
In the battle for the Class 4A, District 8 top spot, River Ridge and host Land O'Lakes left Monday's 0-0 draw wondering where the other stood.
"There's nothing I take away from them," Gators coach Mark Pearson said. "They held us to a draw."
The Royal Knights (3-1-1) gathered their bags feeling confident they can battle anyone on the North Suncoast. The Gators felt with a full complement of players the outcome would have been different.
Arguably the best scoring chance came in the second half. River Ridge junior John Thompson collected a misplayed ball outside the Gators' 18. A shifty move shook one defender, allowing Thompson to fire the ball off his right foot.
Credit Land O'Lakes backup keeper Anthony Fantauzzo for a diving save. The ball deflected off his fingertips.
Thompson's next opportunity would have been an indirect free kick after a Gators defender played the ball back to Fantauzzo, who illegally scooped it up. Thompson didn't realize the foul resulted in an indirect kick and his quick attempt returned the ball to the Gators.
Land O'Lakes (5-0-1) had plenty of chances as well. The Gators found scrappy play in freshman Sean Young, and a couple of missed opportunities from junior Ryan Bowen.
"This is the way we should have played," River Ridge coach Michael McHugh said. "This is what I expect of our guys."