ORLANDO — The third time was the charm.
The West Orange girls soccer team unseated the reigning district champs, defeating the Apopka Blue Darters, 3-2, in the Class 5A District 4 Championship Jan. 16 at Dr. Phillips High School.
The victory ended a five-year run for the Blue Darters as district champions, with the Warriors having finished as runners-up to Apopka in 2013 and 2014.
It was three seniors that led the way for West Orange, with Gabby Capozza scoring in the 11th minute, Katie Passilla scoring in the 52nd minute, and Hannah Zoeltsch scoring the game-winner with barely two minutes to play.
Accordingly, it was also the seniors — who had never beat Apopka before this season — who appreciated the significance of Friday’s win most.
“This means so much to me — all my four years (winning the district is) all we’ve wanted to do,” Capozza said. “It’s such a good moment.”
West Orange (15-1-4) struck first, but each of the Warriors’ first two goals were met by a response from the Blue Darters’ Riley Sanders.
West Orange coach Stan Banks said afterward it was essential for his girls to take advantage of each opportunity that was presented against a good team.
“We worked on set pieces all week going in — we knew we would have to take advantage of every opportunity, and we did,” Banks said. “I’m just happy for my seniors and very happy for the team. It caps a season that really built to this.”
West Orange will host a regional quarterfinal playoff game Jan. 22, when it welcomes Lake Brantley to Raymond Screws Field in Winter Garden.
In the meantime, though, the Warriors aren’t quite ready to stop celebrating a big night for the program.
“I mean I’m going to enjoy it for a while,” Capozza said enthusiastically. “I’m just really happy right now.”