LAKEWOOD RANCH -- For Guy Virgilio, it never gets old.
The most successful coach in the history of Lakewood Ranch High got his 10th district championship when his girls soccer team defeated visiting Venice 3-0 in the Class 4A-11 final Friday night.
"Any time you can win district, it is big, and that's what we are here for. This is a great experience for the girls, especially the ones who are going to play in college," Virgilio said. "These are the games you learn from. The other team is going to press you, and you are going to be tested."
Virgilio has been the program's only head coach going back to the 1999-2000 season. It was his fourth straight district title and ninth in the last 10 years.
Vigilio had his usual smile and praised his players. He has won those titles with all different types of teams. This year's squad is on the young side, but it excels in defense and has just enough talent on the offensive side.
Virgilio says he can't exactly explain how this string of success continues. But the program has talented players who love to play for him and respect his knowledge of the game.
"I don't know how we keep it going. We keep building and building, and obviously the girls are the ones doing it out there," Virgilio said. "They were scrappy out there tonight. We knew we were facing a good team, and they were not going to give it to us. We got a couple of goals at the end that I wasn't expecting that helped us."
On a blustery night, Lakewood Ranch (16-1-4) got the only goal of the first half 24 minutes before intermission when it was going against the wind.
Tyler Gordon broke ahead of the pack on a pass from Chelsea Martin, threw a fake on the goalie and drilled in a shot to the open net from about 20 yards out.
The sophomore added another goal in the second half to finish the scoring and increase her team-leading total to 16 goals. She also leads the Mustangs with nine assists.
"I just tried to get it past the goalie," Gordon said. "I tried to use my speed. On the second goal I just tried to relax and shoot it. To win another district title feels good. We always have good players and always put our heart into it when it matters. It was important to get that first goal because it got them down a little."
There wasn't much scoring for quite awhile afterward. Venice (17-5-2) mounted some offense, but the Ranch defense stiffened and eventually recorded its 13th shutout of the season. Both teams were credited with 10 shots, and each had four shots on goal. The Mustangs got their second goal from Delaney Riggins.
In his 14 years, Virgilio has been to the district final 13 times. He didn't make his first year when the Mustangs only had freshmen and sophomores on their roster. They went to the state final four in 2006.
"We know we have speed with Tyler and just need to keep feeding her the ball so she can do whatever she needs to do," Virgilio said. "Getting that first goal was very important. Venice came on in the last 20 minutes of the first half and were winning all the balls, but our defense did a fantastic job. If they would've scored, it would've been a different game. Technically, this was not the best game I've seen the girls play, but we got the job done."
Virgilio praised goalie Alexandra Latham and gave credit to his two central mid-defenders Juliana Guida and Amanda Barr and outside defenders Hannah Miller and Tatum Young.
Lakewood Ranch will be home Wednesday in the Class 4A-Region 3 quarterfinal, playing host to Cape Coral Ida Baker.