LAND O'LAKES – They might not have been ready to play at the very start, but Land O'Lakes came around. Sydny Nasello scored two goals as the Gators (8-2) took over first place in Class 3A, District 8 with a 5-1 defeat of visiting River Ridge on Monday.
The Knights, who hadn't lost since their season opener and came in averaging five goals a game, looked sure to add to that total in a dominant first nine minutes. But Land O'Lakes goalie Raeanna Casler made two outstanding saves on Alexa Guido, and later terrific sophomore Caitlin Megargel ripped one barely over the goal.
But as the 10-minute mark approached, Ashley Doers broke free down the left side and crossed to Nasello for a blast into the top of the net.
"We started a little slow today. I don't know if they were mentally prepared, coming off the Sunlake game last week and that's always a big rivalry," said Gator coach Vicki King. "You know it's colder tonight, I don't know if that's a reason. And River Ridge came to play."
River Ridge fell behind 2-0 when Morghan Craven scored her ninth goal off an Emma Skantze corner, but two minutes later Guido's individual effort made it 2-1 in the 34th minute.
That provided a sense of momentum for the Knights (9-2-1), who like Land O'Lakes came in with a 4-0 district record. But the Gators completely took over, scoring the next three goals in a span of 15 minutes, all while River Ridge failed to record a shot.
"We always talk about what we did well in the first half, and what we need to improve. I guess maybe they took it to heart," King said.
One of those is the kickoff, and did the Gators ever excel there. Right off the whistle Doers sped straightforward for a goal that took 10 seconds.
"It's one for the books," said Doers, who had never scored so quickly. "I think we could've settled the ball more, but overall we did what we came here to do."
River Ridge was aggressive, committing 15 fouls to the hosts' four, but did not get its first corner kick until the 57th minute. Megargel had the Knights' first shot in the second half with just 15 minutes left; going on to record three more and all seven of her team's shots after the Guido goal.
While Megargel did most of her work in the middle, outside defenders Skantze and Kylie Denney did a great job of slowing down the Knights there. Midfielder Macie Harlan added strong patrolling defense and was rewarded with a great goal, a 25-yard effort to cap the scoring.
Nasello had made it 4-1 with a quick-thinking chip after a pass from Kelly Hutson. The score could have gotten worse if not for some strong defense by River Ridge freshman Amanda Johnston.
It was the start of a four-game week for Land O' Lakes, the next three on consecutive days beginning Wednesday.