SARASOTA -- It was one of those nights where everyone had a reason to celebrate.
Out-Of-Door-Academy sophomore Abby LaGasse turned in her first hat trick to lead the Thunder to the Class A-District 7 girls district championship with a 9-3 victory against visiting Bradenton Christian Friday.
On the other bench, Friday was the first time in his 11 years as coach that Butch Morley led BCS to the district title game. On Thursday, they will be in a region quarterfinal as district runner-up for the first time.
LaGasse scored all three of her goals in the second half to help the Thunder (9-6) expand its 4-1 halftime lead.
"It feels really good, but it's a team effort. I wouldn't have gotten any of my goals without my teammates," LaGasse said." I didn't have any idea I would get a hat trick. I play center-mid, so if you want to shoot you have to shoot from far out."
Natali Gorji produced two first-half goals. The other two were by Cayla Dammann and Katherine Pacitti.
"Abby was a little frustrated in the beginning. She wanted
to score and she pressed and pressed," Thunder coach Bill Unzicker said.
ODA, which beat BCS 7-0 during the regular season, increased its lead to 5-1 early in the second half on a goal by Dammann.
Madison Allen cut the Panthers deficit to 5-2, but the Thunder responded with two goals by LaGasse and a penalty kick by Madisyn Opstal. LaGasse got the final two goals.
"We were nervous in the beginning," Unzicker said. "We are the No. 1 seed, and there were a lot of expectations. Once they settled, it opened up a lot of things for our other players,"
Morley, who will step down as the Panthers coach after the season, can go into retirement on a high. BCS enters regionals with a 10-3-1 record.
"It's a long time to wait to be in the final, but this was a pleasure," Morley said. "It was fun to watch the girls play the game the way it was meant to be played with all the passing and receiving."
The Panthers also got goals from Maddie Jackson and McKenna Jackson.
ODA will play host to the 1A-District 8 runner-up next Thursday in the Region 2 quarterfinal and BCS will be on the road to play the District 8 champion.
Community School of Naples will be at No. 1 seed Fort Myers Evangelical Christian Saturday night at 6 pm to determined the 1A-8 champion and runner-up.