By Jeff Odom
The Sunlake boys soccer team clinched the first Sunshine Athletic Conference (SAC) championship in the program’s six-year history with a 4-0 win at home against Wiregrass Ranch Jan. 16.
The Seahawks (25-0) dominated most of the first half with eight shots, but couldn’t manage to get past Bulls (13-8) goalkeeper Aaron Shimer.
After stopping a pair of point-blank shots just three minutes into the game, Shimer turned away a laser by Gilboy (two goals) in the 15th minute and a free kick with less than two minutes to go to keep the game scoreless.
“At the half we were like, we have everything on the line here,” Gilboy said. “A perfect season, conference championship, pride, all that stuff, and we knew it was time to go and just had to step it up.”
And that’s what Sunlake did.
Shimer left in the 41st minute with a left knee injury after falling hard trying to make a save. That opened the door for the Seahawks to breakthrough in the 46th minute as Ryan Norberg sent a pass to Andrew Eastley, who found the back of the net.
Louis Andrusyszyn scored in the 58th minute to extend Sunlake’s lead to 2-0.
“We started slow, but eventually we start wearing teams down, and that really showed tonight,” said Seahawks coach Sam Koleduk. “It’s hard to stop us for a whole game, and after starting slow we got the first goal and started rolling.”
The referees issued six of nine yellow cards in the second half. The chippy play seemed to light a fire under Gilboy.
He took a free kick deep in Wiregrass Ranch’s side of the field and converted the chance by firing a shot past goalkeeper Ryan Duran into the top right corner.
Gilboy, who scored again in the 79th minute, said the team knew it couldn’t relax against the Bulls.
“The biggest thing was never giving up,” Gilboy said. “Even though we’re two up, we just had to keep our foot on the gas and it worked out.”
The night was especially memorable for Gilboy, who was informed after the game that he was Pasco County’s new single-season record holder for goals in a season with 58. He surpassed former Land O’ Lakes and University of South Florida standout Justin Geisler’s total of 55 set in 2000.
“That’s absolutely incredible, man, absolutely incredible,” Gilboy said. “Four longest years of my life, I’m not even going to lie. Finally got it this year, and it feels good. I just want to thank God and all these people around me helping me out every single way. I’ve played with guys like Geisler and it’s kind of bittersweet knowing that you beat his record, but it’s the greatest thing.”
Gilboy set the county mark the night before by scoring four goals against Fivay. He has 109 tallies in his career, eight away from supplanting Jordan Landry as the Seahawks all-time leader.
The Seahawks are the No. 1 seed in the Class 3A-District 7 tournament at Pasco, which runs Jan. 21 to 25, where they could face No. 2 and cross-town rival Land O’ Lakes for the third time this season in the final.
“We’re not overlooking Wesley Chapel, who gave us a big scare earlier this year,” Koleduk said. “Land O’ Lakes will still have to battle Pasco, but hopefully we can stay focused and take it one game at a time, because being unbeaten, there’s a lot of pressure.”