LAND O’ LAKES — Sunlake has given up only four goals this season. And that’s just as impressive as the Seahawks (14-0-1, 13-0 Class 3A-District 8) scoring 90 goals. “I think that we can strike at any time,” coach Sam Koleduk said. “Other teams may struggle to do that, but we’re good at making the most of opportunities.” Sunlake did just that with its 3-1 win against district foe River Ridge (7-3-3, 7-2-2), which also let the Seahawks clinch the No. 1 seed in the district tournament at Gulf High, starting Jan. 20.
Behind two goals from sophomore Remi Pimm, who has a Pasco-County leading 33 on the season, and another from Connor Spencer, the Seahawks, who are ranked 20th in the nation, think they’re poised for another deep postseason run. “Well, last year’s leading scorer (Connor Gilboy) is not back, so I feel I need to step up and carry this team with goals,” said Pimm, who transferred to Sunlake before this season. “And I think we have what it takes to win states.” Sunlake got on the board in the first half, with Pimm’s goals coming minutes apart. First, Pimm put away a Spencer shot that Royal Knights keeper Tyler Manaras deflected in the 25th minute, and two minutes later, Pimm beat Manaras by chipping in a through ball from Joe Ditroia. “I think, as a sophomore, he’s one of the best players in the state,” Koleduk said. “Just his vision on the field and his goal-scoring sense make him a force out there.” Early in the second half, River Ridge would cut the lead in half and get a goal from Jason Navas when he put away a pass from Antonio Chavdarov. Sunlake’s defense suffered from a poor clear and Navas got the goal past keeper Danny Hrenko, keeping him from earning his 13th shutout. In the 69th minute, Sunlake got its third goal when Pimm was taken down in the Royal Knights’ box and awarded a penalty kick. Spencer buried it for his 12th goal. “They play a good game,” Koleduk said of River Ridge. “They’re good and held they’re own, but I think we’re a bit sluggish from all the games we’ve played recently. But I expect to see River Ridge again at that district tournament.”