By Kyle LoJacono
The Wiregrass Ranch boys soccer team showed it is a force to be reckoned with in Class 4A-District 8 after a 6-0 dismantling of Gaither at home Dec. 7.
It is the first time the Bulls (8-3, 2-2) have beaten a district opponent besides Chamberlain since the league formed before last season, and the Cowboys (3-5-2, 1-1-2) are just a year removed from their second straight final four appearance.
“I think for our program it’s a signature win,” said Bulls coach Dave Wilson. “We beat Land O’ Lakes this year. We played well that game and Land O’ Lakes is still a very good team, but people didn’t see it as a signature win. Beating a Hillsborough County school that is always good, I mean this is a signature win.”
The Bulls dominated possession from the opening kick to the final whistle.
“We try and one and two touch all over the field, keeping shape and moving together and overlap our backs,” Dave said. “We really just clicked. Gaither plays more of a direct game than we do. They have some very dangerous players up top. We got some breaks early and they didn’t. That was the difference early on. They’re still a talented team.”
Wiregrass Ranch capitalized with a pair of goals in the first eight minutes, the opener by Sean Sourk and the second from Bryce Wilson.
“It changed the momentum in the beginning of the game to score those two goals,” said senior midfielder Robert Castillo, who assisted Sourk’s tally and added another after halftime. “Gaither is a good team, so to score first made us feel stronger.”
The Bulls looked just as dominant to start their district game against Freedom Nov. 27.
Wiregrass Ranch scored in the first 20 minutes and outplayed the Patriots throughout the first half, but Freedom connected for two late goals to win 2-1.
“The experience going through that Freedom game made us stronger,” Castillo said. “We couldn’t let them happen one more time. We had to stay 100 percent until the game is over.”
Senior defender Andres Hernandez helped create more offense by stopping a shot at an open net and sending the ball forward to Wilson, who found Jacob Spana for the Bulls third goal.
“They were keeping us on our toes, but we were doing a great job going from side to side and with communication,” Hernandez said. “We got them offside several times because we were in sync. That was one of the greatest things tonight was everyone was on the same page. We’d step and play it right to our midfielders, and they’d play it up top.”
Bryce added another goal 11 minutes after halftime for his seventh of the season and had two assists in the contest to extend his program record in a season to 20.
“This game was all about teamwork,” Bryce said. “We put a lot of good combinations together. We came out with high intensity, and it showed. … I think we knew that we could play with them. It was just a matter of putting everything together. Tonight we did.”
Spana scored again in the 74th minute, while Tristan Hart added a tally in the final seconds.
Dave said he was proud that his team closed out the contest strong.
“At practice we talked about somebody has to step up and say, ‘No more,’” Dave said. “We gave up a 2-0 lead at Mitchell and a 1-0 lead at Freedom. We were up 3-0 at Chamberlain, and it ended up 3-2. Someone needed to step up and say we’re not going to let down, and I think individually they each did that. We talked about that at halftime, and they responded really well.”
Dave also pointed out that several young players were forced into action in part because the Bulls were without a pair of starting defenders, Dakota Skipper and Doug Nolting, who missed the game because of family reasons.
“Maurice Lewis, he’s a freshman who’s never started before and played fantastic,” Dave said. “Felix Baldonato played up top, and that’s another freshman we got good minutes from, so did Brendon Duran.”
Wiregrass Ranch hosted Hudson Dec. 10, but results were not available by press time. The Bulls play at Pasco Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m. before hosting 4A-8 rival Sickles Dec. 14 at 6 p.m.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.