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Lecanto opponents know the score

When asked to rate the performance this season of the Lecanto defense, junior Kevin Griffin matter-of-factly replied, "No complaints."

Can you blame him?

Through 18 games, the Panthers allowed 11 goals. They have 10 shutouts and only two opponents have found the net more than once.

"We just love to frustrate the other offense," Griffin said.

Lecanto held Nature Coast Tech without a shot attempt in an 8-0 win Monday and has allowed 66 shots for the season. Panthers forward Kyle Davis has that many attempts on his own.

"If they don't score, that makes it easy," coach Doug Warren said. "There's no pressure on the offense to get things done. There's no rush. They play well together. They communicate well. They don't ever give up. And so far, they've played pretty smart."

The dividends of the defense's play have been great. The Panthers, off to what is believed to be the best start in school history, are 17-0-1 (13-0-1 in Class 4A, District 9) entering tonight's game at Hudson. Lecanto's win streak is at eight.

"Everybody plays together and everybody knows where everybody else is," Warren said.

The defense includes:

Chris Thomashunis, a senior keeper who has allowed 11 goals. He is tough in the box and makes good decisions, Warren said.

Senior sweeper Sean O'Hare, a returning all-area performer. A fast and intelligent player with great recovery ability, O'Hare is the last line of defense before an opponent reaches Thomashunis. Warren calls him the squad's top defender.

Jeremy Cox, a senior stopper who moved from midfield to defender and has been one of the county's top performers. He is responsible for stopping defenders in the center of the field. Because of his strong offensive skills, he is good at the transition game.

Griffin, outside defender and Crystal River transfer. He covers the opponents' forwards. Griffin is a quick and intelligent finesse player, Warren said.

Darren Kopera, a senior outside defender. Kopera is a grinder who never gives up. He also is Thomashunis' backup.

Nick Burns, a speedy outside defender who splits time with Kopera.

"We work well together," Griffin said. "If one of us steps up to a player, another guy follows to back him up. We have each other's back."

_ Keith Niebuhr can be reached at 860-7337 or online at niebuhrsptimes.com.

GETTING DEFENSIVE

GAMES PLAYED: 18.

RECORD: 17-0-1.

GOALS ALLOWED: 11.

SHOTS ALLOWED: 66.

SHUTOUTS: 10.

MOST GOALS ALLOWED IN GAME: 2 vs. Leesburg and Springstead.

_ Compiled by Keith Niebuhr.

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