By Kyle LoJacono
Ask anyone on the Sunlake boys soccer team why Connor Gilboy leads Pasco County with 50 goals this season and the answer will be the same — his effort.
The senior forward is always running on the field, even between play. Seahawks (22-0) coach Sam Koleduk said that not only puts him in position for goals, but also wears out the competition.
“He’s huge, and you can clearly see it’s because of his work rate,” Koleduk said. “If we could get everybody to play like that, we’d be unstoppable. His work rate is awesome.”
Soccer was the first sport Gilboy started playing, picking it up around age 7. He has run cross country and played tennis since his freshman year and was the kicker/punter for the Seahawks football team this year, an effort that earned him first-team The Laker/Lutz News and Sunshine Athletic Conference honors.
“I started playing all these other sports just to keep in shape,” Gilboy said. “I ended up being pretty good at football, first team this year. I just did that because they asked me to. I didn’t expect to do much. It was really fun, but I love soccer.”
Gilboy, who has 22 assists this year, has compiled 101 goals in his career. He is two goals away from breaking Jordan Landry’s single-season program record, and 16 off his career mark, but Gilboy’s drive is for more than individual stats.
For the fourth-year varsity player, his work has been to make Sunlake a premiere soccer program, and the effort has paid off this year.
Sunlake defeated cross-town rival and annual powerhouse Land O’ Lakes 2-1 Jan. 10 to sweep the two regular season meetings with the Gators (9-4) and clinch the top seed in the Class 3A-District 7 tournament.
“Coming into the game we had people promising pizza parties if we win,” Gilboy said. “The administrators promised us cookies and stuff if we beat Land O’ Lakes. Honestly, we just wanted to finally install ourselves as the dominant team in Pasco.”
Gilboy was looking for some way to inspire his teammates before the showdown with the Gators.
“I was reading an old article, because I’ve saved everything since I’ve been a freshman, and I’m looking at what can I get to pump these guys up,” Gilboy said. “I came across something, don’t remember if it was in The Laker or the Tribune, but I grabbed it, and the headline was ‘Sunlake pleased to hang with LOL.’ If you look at things now that’s completely reversed.
“It’s been a really, really long journey,” Gilboy continued. “Before districts last year we’d never beaten Land O’ Lakes ever; so to beat them twice in a row is unbelievable.”
Sunlake played at Hudson Jan. 14, but results were not available by press time. The Seahawks host Wiregrass Ranch Jan. 16 at 7 p.m.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.