Gators unfazed despite first defeat
By STEVE LEE, Times Staff Writer
LAND O'LAKES -- The inevitable happened Thursday when Land O'Lakes lost for the first time this season.
Playing in what coach Vicky King described as the toughest competition the Gators have faced so far, Land O'Lakes went 1-1-1 in the Elite division of the Sarasota Classic.
A 2-0 loss to Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas in Thursday's opening round ended Land O'Lakes' 11-game winning streak.
"Losing's a big deal, but it was a respectable game," King said.
"To lose to a very good team like St. Thomas Aquinas is nothing to be ashamed of."
On Friday, the Gators bounced back from their lone defeat to tie Cape Coral Mariner 2-2 before getting back on the winning track with a 6-0 shutout of Bradenton Manatee.
"We had a good tournament," King said. "We have some work to do, but it showed we can also play against the tougher teams."
King was impressed with the Gators' rally from a two-goal deficit against Mariner.
Second-half goals by Jessica Reynolds and Casie Poyssick, as well as a solid effort from backup keeper Amanda Smith, who earned her second win of the season, helped forge a tie.
"That's something we haven't had to do," King said of Land O'Lakes' first comeback win this season.
"It builds character."
Casie Poyssick's hat trick led the Gators past Manatee. Stacy Bishop, Kelly Jackson and Sara Brinkley, a freshman brought up from the junior varsity, also scored in that game with Reynolds, Bishop and Jolene Hite each earning an assist.
This is the first time in the Gators' three straight Sarasota Classic appearances that they did not advance beyond pool play.
Land O'Lakes lost in the consolation rounds the previous two seasons.
"This is all experience," King said of playing in the prestigious tournament.
"This will make us better later."
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