Girls soccer | Lakewood Ranch wins fifth consecutive district title, stays unbeaten

Mustangs claim 5th consecutive district crown

adell@bradenton.comJanuary 18, 2014 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Things never change for the Lakewood Ranch girls soccer program.

It just looks a little different.

The host Mustangs (20-0-1) defeated Braden River 3-0 Friday in the Class 4A-District 11 final to win their fifth straight district title and 11th in 14 years, all under coach Guy Virgilio.

It also marked the first time the program notched 20 victories in a season.

They've won those championships in all kinds of ways. They've had high-powered offenses, physical teams and those that played with finesse.

The 2014 version is defense oriented. They've allowed only six goals all season and are extremely talented in the back end with goalie Alex Latham, Juliana Guida and Lindsay Martinez.

The only blemish on Lakewood Ranch's record is a scoreless tie against Braden River in the first match of the season.

"I am very proud of the girls and how they conducted themselves to get the win. Our defense has been phenomenal all season," Virgilio said. "You are looking at those three seniors in the back with Juliana, Lindsay and our goalie Alex. They have been our anchor. We have 14 shutouts. If we score one goal I feel very comfortable."

The trio of veterans got a nice boost from freshman Sophia Falco, who scored two goals and sophomore Julia Ortiz, who had the other.

"A freshman coming in and to be able to withstand all the pressure she has been put under has been phenomenal," Virgilio said. "She can't seem to accept the idea that she is a freshman. She has so much energy and never stops. I try to get freshman to see how far they can go and she showed she could take the pressure."

Latham had two saves and Braden River goalie Kat Elliott had four.

The Mustangs got their first goal eight minutes into the match when Sophia Falco scored with an assist from her sister, junior Talia Falco. Lakewood Ranch lead 1-0 at halftime.

Ortiz got the Mustangs first goal of the second half and Sophia followed.

"Julie and Lindsay make my life so much easier for me. They make me the most confident person ever," Latham said. "It feels awesome to win four district titles. It's crazy. It's bittersweet from here on out because every game could be my last."

It's been a good season for Braden River (17-3-2), which tied Lakewood Ranch and lost to the Mustangs. The Pirates have not scored a goal against their arch rivals all season.

"We had opportunities tonight to score. We just didn't finish. Some of it was lack of patience and some of it was the ball just didn't go our way," Braden River head coach Don Engelberger said. "We are going to win next Thursday (in the regional quarterfinal) and face them again. The fourth time is going to be a charm. They are a good team and are well coached. We connected well, but I think we were impatient a few times."

Lakewood Ranch will be home next Thursday when it heads into its region quarterfinal match on a 19-game win streak.

Braden River will be on the road.

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