BROOKSVILLE - Nature Coast Technical extended its season at the expense of youthful and banged-up Sunlake Thursday in a Class 3A, Region II girls soccer quarterfinal at Shark Tank Stadium, 3-0.
The setback was Sunlake's (16-5-3) eighth in a row lifetime against the Lady Sharks (20-2-2). SHS, which was missing three starters, has been outscored by NCT, 40-0.
Behind a pair of goals by frosh striker Jayna Tyler, plus the Hernando County-leading 28th goal of the season by senior striker Hailey Lalande, the Lady Sharks handed the visiting Lady Seahawks their second straight regional quarterfinal setback.
The Lady Sharks extended their non-losing streak to 12 matches - featuring an 11-match win skein - behind their 13th shutout of the season. Senior goalkeeper Samantha Oliveira converted seven saves
The win permitted NCT to tie the Hernando County record for most wins in a season (20) - initially set by the 2006-07 Springstead Lady Eagles.
Thanks in part to senior midfielder Kendal Worden's team-leading 12th, 13th and 14th assists of the season, and a suffocating defense, the Brooksville booters will host a 3A-II semifinal next Tuesday against rugged Land O' Lakes.
The Lady Gators, in their Pasco County-record 19th regional appearance, ousted Hudson on Thursday, 2-0.
Tyler opened the scoring at 17:00 on a cross by Worden.
Sunlake had a quality opportunity for the equalizer in the final two minutes of the first half, but Kailee Raberge's diagonal shot across the goal pulled wide left.
Another shot early in the second half rebounded off a post.
Within a three-minute span in the second half, SHS outshot NCT, 6-2, but the Lady Sharks converted on both of their attempts.
At 53:00, Lalande gobbled up a Worden feed and rocketed a 35-yarder just inside the left post, 2-0.
Three minutes later, Worden's third assist led to Tyler's 16th goal of the season to close the books.
"Their (NCT's) second goal was huge," described third-year Sunlake mentor Jami Finan.
"Tonight, we just couldn't finish. We weren't as intense in the first half.
"I thought we were still in it, but it was difficult to get the ball through their defense."
Finan said she had no regrets and forecasted, "This isn't the last time you're going to see this team in the playoffs."
NCT's fifth-year skipper Lisa Masserio gave Sunlake credit.
"They earned a lot of respect in my book," pointed out the defending Hernando Today Coach of the Year. "Without three starters I thought they connected some passes real well. We survived some dangerous chances in the back."
Despite the win, Masserio wasn't entirely pleased.
"I don't feel like we played our best game," she said. "We had difficulty combining our passes. Some of that has to do with Sunlake and some of it has to do with us being flat-footed too much.
"I told the girls, the kind of effort we got tonight won't get it done against Land O' Lakes."
On the positives, Maserio pointed that Tyler responded after being benched last Friday against Hudson.
"Give Jayna credit, she wasn't moping around, she came in and stepped up," added Masserio. "And I can't say enough about our defense. From here on out the pressure mounts, I told the girls that there aren't any more games unless we bring it."
Freshman defender Santina Paonessa played rock solid in the back.
"We did real well coming forward," detailed the 15-year-old Paonessa. "I thought our first goal was huge. Kendal gave a great pass and hit Jayna in the right place at the right time."
"I don't know if I've ever had more than three assists in one game," claimed the 17-year-old Worden. "The win is amazing because it keeps us going. Our goal is to go further than last year."
Of her two goals, Tyler remarked, "The first one was the biggest; it gave us momentum," identified the 15-year-old. "Tonight, we weren't expecting to get many goals. Credit belongs to Kendal with her awesome passing."
Lalande kept the game in prospective.
"Getting to the semifinals is huge," said the 17-year-old Lalande. "I wanted to put last year behind and start fresh. Honestly, we didn't play our best tonight. We didn't combine enough passes.
"I'm excited to play Land O' Lakes," she added. "A lot of coaches keep doubting us; that's fine with me. We'll just continue to play hard."
Nature Coast Technical 3, Sunlake 0
SNL 0 0 -- 0
NCT 1 2 -- 3
Goals - NCT: Tyler (2), Lalande.
Assists - NCT: Worden (3).
Shots on goal - SNL: 9; NCT: 7.
Saves - SNL: Carter (6); NCT: Oliveira (7).
Yellow cards - NCT: Branch, Aponte (unsporting behavior).
Blue cards - none. Red cards - none.
Records - Sunlake (16-5-3), Nature Coast Technical (20-2-2).
Class 3A, Region II
NCT 3, Sunlake 0
Land O' Lakes 2, Hudson 0
Land O' Lakes at NCT, 7 p.m.