LECANTO — If there was any sort of asterisk vibe lingering from Lecanto's 1-0 win over Land O'Lakes in late November, it can now be erased.
And the Panthers are very much in the real record books now, with the school's first trip to the girls soccer state semifinals. Unbeaten Lecanto defeated Land O Lakes 2-1 in Tuesday's Class 3A region final before several hundred thrilled home fans.
The Panthers handed Land O'Lakes (23-3) two if its three losses, but (**) the first came when the Gators were missing top scorer Sydny Nasello, who was training with the under-18 national camp. Nasello was there Tuesday, and though she scored, the Panthers (21-0-1) kept her relatively in check.
And while they only mustered a few scoring chances in the 1-0 earlier win, the Panthers created at least 10 strong ones Tuesday to earn a spot in Friday's state semis. Lecanto will visit Gulf Breeze High.
After a slow start that saw both sides manage a single shot on goal in 20 minutes, Nasello broke in, but couldn't connect with her less-favored left foot in the 27th. Gators freshman Taylor Denney made a key early clearance, then Lecanto started knocking hard on the door, barely missing twice, including a time-stand-still effort from sophomore Tristen King.
As Gator goalie Raeanna Casler came out to play the ball 40 yards from goal, King beat her to the ball, only to have her shot trickle inches wide of a vacated goal.
There was no such stopping Breise Teitelman, as the lefty found the net for her 46th goal seven minutes before half. Teitelman has only failed to score twice all season: the first meeting with LOL, and a 3-1 win against Wiregrass Ranch.
With senior Emma Skantze coming up from defense to create constant movement up the left flank and sophomore Avery Wild all over the field, the Gators started to get more chances in the second half. But Lecanto made it 2-0, sophomore Katie Vancleef getting her 18th just after a great Wild clearance.
Nasello, who was shadowed well by senior Kallie Weidner and collapsed upon by at least two Panthers whenever she got the ball, finally got loose for her 45th goal and it was 2-1 with 13 minutes left. But the Panthers, with freshman right back Nicole Brake particularly staunch, kept the Gators out of the danger area well enough.
Brake nearly scored her first goal but Casler made a difficult punch save on her 40-yarder. Casler made an unreal reflex save to prevent it from being a 3-1 final.
Nasello finishes her career with 120 goals.
The game was played on a damp pitch and a misty night at Lecanto, which recently avenged its only blemish, a early-season 1-1 tie against Gainesville Eastside. Lecanto beat Eastside in both the district finals and region semis, by 4-1 and 3-1 scores.
Lecanto has outscored its opponents 136-9.