WINTER GARDEN, Fla. – Kasey Rakauskas netted a hat trick for the fifth time this season to help keep the postseason run alive for the girls soccer team at Lake Brantley High School.
The three most recent goals for the senior came at the most opportune time as the Patriots (13-8-2) went on the road Thursday for a Class 5A region quarterfinal and won 3-0 over West Orange (13-3-4), the No. 3 team in the Orlando Sentinel Super Six rankings.
Rakauskas also scored three goals in a game this season against Seminole (Oct. 28), Lake Howell (Nov. 14), Hagerty (Jan. 13) and Lake Mary (Jan. 14).
“She’s a star, she knows how to play and she reads the game so well,” Lake Brantley coach JC Garzon said.
Lake Brantley has won four of five matches since Jan. 8 and moves on to play Oviedo on Tuesday in a rematch of their district title game last week, won 1-0 by the Lions.
Rakauskas gave the Patriots a 1-0 lead Thursday on a penalty kick with 19 seconds left in the first half after Nicole Roseland and West Orange freshman goalkeeper Kayla Strehle collided inside the 18-yard box. Strehle was given a yellow card and forced to watch from the sideline as Rakauskas’ effort to the right side was never contested by backup Morgan Henry.
Roseland assisted on both goals in the second half. The second score for Rakauskas came just two minutes into the period when she chipped a shot into the far corner from 15 yards out after taking a cross from the left side. She scored again from the top of the box with 12 minutes remaining.
While Rakauskas did all the work offensively it was a stingy back line that gave West Orange the most trouble, when they weren’t halting their own momentum by way of offside calls.
The most trouble came while dealing with defender Miranda Vogel, who thwarted numerous runs down the left side by Gabriela Capozza and Maddison Skretteberg. She also deflected a shot on an open net attempt by Skretteberg early in the second half to help preserve the shutout in goal for Caroline Gibbs.
“She’s one of the standout players that we have and she plays in any position I ask of her,” Garzon said of Vogel. “There’s a couple tactical moves you can make with her. It’s like playing a game of chess.”
The toughness shown on the defense end of the field gave the Patriots all the advantage they needed Thursday, and will likely be what matters most should they be in position to continue advancing through the playoffs.
“Our thing is, we’re trying to play from the heart,” Garzon said afterwards. “We know that a lot of the other schools have a lot [more] speed, so we just try to play with more heart and more passing of the ball and see where it goes from there.”