Rivals Wildcats, Gators to face off

A pair of blowout victories earned two county schools state tournament berths.

Published January 25, 2007

LAND O'LAKES - A pair of blowout victories earned two Pasco County schools state tournament berths Wednesday and set up a grudge match for the district title.

Wesley Chapel used a second-half surge to get past Central 5-0 in the early game. Land O'Lakes cruised in the late game for a 7-0 victory.

The Wildcats and Gators last played Jan. 10 to a 3-3 draw. Land O'Lakes gave up two second-half goals in an effort that frustrated coach Mark Pearson.

A win Friday would give Land O'Lakes its third consecutive district title.

"We didn't play with much intensity in that game," Pearson said. "...This is a different story now. We're playing for a regular-season championship, not a regular-season game."

The Gators (19-4-2) were impressive Wednesday, with a hat trick by forward Louis Falcon and a pair of goals from junior Elliott Leniton. Land O'Lakes scored its four second-half goals in a five-minute span.

Wesley Chapel (12-5-2) also had an easy time of things in the final 40 minutes against Central (10-8-3). Daniel Valdez scored twice and had three assists, helping the Wildcats reach the state tournament.

Wesley Chapel coach Brian Dorkowski credits the flood of goals to moving Valdez from center-midfield to the front line.

"He just dominated that second half," Dorkowski said.

CLASS 3A, DISTRICT 6: Wiregrass Ranch fell in its first semifinal, 3-0 to Umatilla at the Villages. The Bulls allowed two first-half goals, then one in the second after trying to push the offense forward.

"I was really pleased with how we played being as young as we are - ninth- and 10th-graders only," Wiregrass coach David Wilson said of his first-year program. "Our whole year was a yearlong training program to get ready for next year."