LAND O’ LAKES — What has always been a natural rivalry is now a hard-fought, district matchup that still has Land O’ Lakes in command.
Once again the Gators swept the season series over crosstown rival Sunlake, thanks to a 1-0 win Wednesday at John Benedetto Stadium.
“I think this is as evenly matched as it’s been, but (to get past them),” Sunlake leading scorer and Saint Leo commit Cassidy Place said. “We can’t let it get in our heads that it’s Land O’ Lakes. We can play with them.
The Gators (15-0, 14-0 Class 3A-District 8) outshot the Seahawks (10-2-2, 10-2-1) 11-5, but after an evenly matched scoreless first half, Land O’ Lakes got on the scoreboard when Samantha Epifanio buried a corner kick from Makenzie Fish in the 61st minute.
“It was so quick that I just got my foot out there and it got in,” Epifanio said. “This was going to be a battle of who would be better tonight.”
Sunlake freshman goalkeeper Landon Carter made four saves, while Land O’ Lakes keeper Lauren Arrabito made two, including a big one just three minutes after the match’s lone goal.
Gabby Maramara had a point-blank shot, but Arrabito, who has six shutouts, made the save.
The Seahawks were playing with an injury-depleted roster that left them without subs.
“Despite their lack of depth, they still played strong and played us well,” said Gators coach Vicky King, who earned her 399th career win.