LAKEWOOD RANCH -- The Lakewood Ranch Mustangs usually rely on one or two players to score goals during the girls soccer season.
But this year is different, and the Mustangs showcased their versatility in Wednesday's Class 4A-District 11 semifinal when they defeated visiting North Port 5-1.
Ranch (19-0-1) received goals from four different players, which is something the club did in amassing an unbeaten regular season.
"It's been like that all year," Mustangs head coach Guy Virgilio said. "It seems this year we spread it around. There's four or five girls that got some goals."
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The Mustangs host Friday's district final against Braden River, who defeated Punta Gorda Charlotte 4-0 in Wednesday's other semifinal.
The Pirates and Mustangs have played two close matches against each other, with Braden River earning a 0-0 draw to open the season and Ranch picking up a 1-0 victory in the return leg later in the season.
"I guarantee you it's going to be a close match," Virgilio said.
On Wednesday, junior Talia Falco put the game out of reach for the
visiting Bobcats when she rocketed in two goals from nearly identical spots on the pitch.
The first came four minutes into the second half when she blasted a right-footed effort in the top right-hand corner of the net from the left wing.
She repeated that finishing touch with her left foot just nine minutes later, her curling shot finding twine from a difficult angle that propelled Ranch into an insurmountable 4-1 lead.
"Sometimes when I go down the field, it crosses through my mind if I should shoot or cross," Falco said. "I just shot. ... Coach Guy, I just kept hearing him say, 'Take it, take it!' So I did."
The Mustangs held a 2-0 lead off goals from senior forward Delaney Riggins and senior midfielder/defender Lindsay Martinez.
The fifth goal from freshman Caroline Nordhausen was the last play of the match.
Falco's second goal was crucial as North Port freshman Maddie Krstec scored to cut the Bobcats' deficit to 3-1.
"I knew either way we'd probably come out on top," Falco said. "But it was just good reassurance that we could settle down and get good confidence."
Another key to Ranch's victory was the mix-and-match style it used by moving the ball through the midfield and then out wide to the wingers. That created width and wreaked havoc on North Port's defense.
"We had close to 20 crosses, which is more than we've had in awhile," Virgilio said. "So that was the game plan. Winning the ball and knock it to the outside."