DADE CITY — Wiregrass Ranch looks at this four-game stretch as an opportunity.
The wins this season have come with relative ease. But winning any of these four would legitimize the Bulls as a North Suncoast playoff contender.
The second leg of the gauntlet came Thursday night in W.F. Edwards Stadium, a place the Bulls had never scored a goal and never won a game.
The latter still holds, but it was some tenacious offense that helped Wiregrass Ranch come from behind for 1-1 tie against Pasco.
"We've been open for four years and we've never left here with as much as a draw," Bulls coach David Wilson said. "To come back, there's definitely some positives in that. We had good moments tonight."
Wiregrass Ranch (9-1-2) was coming off a 2-0 victory Wednesday against Springstead with Land O'Lakes and Sunlake next week. Taking it game by game, the Bulls looked outmuscled early as the Pirates (7-0-1) took advantage of speed to create chances. In all, Pasco had no fewer than three headers fly over or wide of the net.
But credit Wiregrass keeper Ian Sourk with making some key saves early to help maintain a scoreless tie heading into the halftime break.
In the second half, both teams had more opportunities including Wiregrass Ranch forward Steven Esoff. His shot less than 10 minutes into the half screamed toward the net, but Pasco keeper Gilbert Tanguma made the save of the night to keep the game scoreless.
Pasco responded when junior Eric Garcia made some nifty moves and dribbled past Sourk to put the Pirates ahead 1-0.
Less than two minutes later, Esoff fired from the left side, this time catching Tanguma out of position and curving the ball to the inside far post to tie the game.
"I felt we had a good chance at winning this game," Esoff said. "We came in prepared. … This year we beat the number of wins we had in school history. … We're after Land O'Lakes, too."
Afterward, Pasco coach Barry Grayling was in no mood to break down Pasco's first tie of the season. He yelled openly about lack of effort and how he felt Pasco was outworked in the second half.
"I've got one word: rubbish," Grayling said. "They came here to win and we didn't, simple as that. They just got outplayed, outrun, the whole shebang."
Izzy Gould can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 421-3886.