LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Guy Virgilio always wanted to turn Lindsay Martinez into a midfielder. Though she had been a defensive standout all her life, the Lakewood Ranch girls soccer coach felt she was playing out of position.
Now the junior would agree.
Few would argue.
"She has quite a strong leg. Her first goal was a laser shot," Virgilio said after the host Mustangs defeated Braden River 4-0 on Wednesday night in the Class 4A-District 11 semifinals to clinch a spot in the region tournament.
Never miss a local story.
"Lindsay always wanted to play defense. Last year I went to her and said, 'You have a great shot, and we need to move you to midfield.' She was a little hesitant. Now she realizes how good she can play there," Virgilio said. "She has a tremendous shot and has developed into a great midfielder. If I was a college coach I would see her as a midfielder with her shot-making ability."
Martinez made Virgilio's sales pitch pay off quickly against Braden River. Less than 11 minutes into the match, she scored on a corner kick and hit her second goal about two minutes before halftime with an assist from Tyler Gordon to stake the Mustangs to a 3-0 halftime lead.
It was the third meeting
between Lakewood Ranch (15-1) and Braden River, which finished its season 9-4-3. They tied once, and the Mustangs won the other match.
"This first goal was a lucky hit. It was kind of like a bent ball. The goalie couldn't get her hands on it enough, and for my luck it went in," Martinez said. "That was my first score off a corner kick this year. When it happened I thought it might be a good night. We had been looking forward to this game because we are rivals. The second goal was a cross in from Tyler Gordon, and I got my foot on it. I was more in the right position and thankful for my teammates.
"When we play them, it's always a fight to the ball. This game we really worked well as a team and just played us. We wanted it more. I was worried coming into the game. I didn't expect this to be such a blowout."
Angelica Rego got Lakewood Ranch's second goal with an assist from Gordon. Talia Falco finished the scoring with 27:21 left in the match with an assist from Juliana Guida. The Mustangs had seven shots on goal, and Braden River had two.
"I had a lot of scenarios in my head, and this wasn't one of them," Braden River head coach Don Engleberger said. "They just outplayed us. We didn't have an answer for anything they threw at us. They dominated us from the start to the finish.
"We have a great group of kids and had a great season, and I am proud of every one of them. As a unit, we just didn't show up tonight, and when that happens you are not going to win."
Lakewood Ranch will play host to Venice in the district final at 7 p.m. Friday. In two meetings this season, the teams tied once, and the Mustangs won the other match.
"The last game, they (Braden River) played fantastic defense and their keeper (Katerina Elliott) is unbelievable. I can't believe we scored four goals on her," Virgilio said. "We knew (defensively) there were a couple of girls we had to mark tight and that is one of the things we did different from the last time we played them. I told the girls we need to make sure they couldn't turn and shoot."