LAKEWOOD RANCH -- When the other team can't score it's hard to lose.
It's a belief the Lakewood Ranch girls soccer team has embraced in its undefeated season that has now reached 23 games.
The Mustangs (22-0-1) allowed Fort Myers Riverdale only three shots on goal in a
2-0 victory Tuesday night in the Class 4A-Region 3 semifinal.
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It was the 17th shutout for the Mustangs, who have allowed only seven goals all season while scoring 81. Riverdale season ended at 19-3-7.
"I know my defense is going to play well. They've been doing it all year," Lakewood Ranch head coach Guy Virgilio said. "I am extremely proud of our center-mid today. They controlled the game and kept winning the 50-50 balls, and that's what we need to do from now on."
The center mid trio of Bri Reda, Maria Miller and Megan Hardy played a key role in Lakewood Ranch getting off 16 shots, including four on goal.
"Megan has been injured and hasn't played much, but she came through. Between those three girls, we definitely controlled the middle," Virgilio said.
Lakewood Ranch got its first goal 10 minutes into the game when a shot by Delaney Riggins bounced off a Riverdale player.
Riggins got her second goal six minutes into the second half on a powerful shot that went off the leaping hands of the outstretched Riverdale goalie.
A senior, Riggins will be making her third trip to the region final and hopefully her second straight state final four.
"I thought the goalie was going to save it (second goal), but luckily it went through her fingers," Riggins said. "It feels really good (to advance). We worked really hard, and the midfield did really good. They had a few chances against us, but Alex (Latham) is great in the net. We knew we had to pick it up because we didn't play our best the last game (a 1-0 victory over Naples Gulf Coast)."
Though Riggins isn't scoring as much as she did during the regular season, she appears to be playing her best in the postseason, doing just enough to keep Lakewood Ranch winning.
"It seems when Delaney needs to she finds a way to get it done," Virgilio said. "Normally she sets things up for Sophia (Falco), but tonight she decided that she was going to take it upon herself to finish. She is the type who gets it done when she needs to do it."
Lakewood Ranch will be home Friday night for the region final against District 10 runner-up Seminole (22-3-1), which defeated District 10 champion Osceola 3-2. Seminole is allowing only 1.6 goals per game
"We really want to get to states again," Riggins said. "We didn't think we would be as good (as last year's team), but we worked so hard and it's paying off. Our defense is solid. We are very confident with them back there."