BOYS SOCCER PREVIEW: North Port returns as area’s most successful team from last year

By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports

North Port’s boys soccer team was the cream of the crop in the area last season, evident by the fact it was the only team to qualify for postseason.

North Port is defending District 4A-11 champion, but lost its defense to graduation before veteran keeper Davian Farjdo tore the ACL in a knee over the summer. Reuben Bohdanets scored 14 goals as a junior and returns to lead North Port’s offense, which may need to score even more this year as a young defense learns the ropes in a tough district.

Charlotte also is in District 4A-11 and can only improve from a one-win season last year. The Tarpons lost their entire defense to graduation, but return most of rest of the lineup, led by midfielders Stephen Young and Don Rapeau.

Port Charlotte finished second in District 3A-14 last season, but was upset by Island Coast in the district tournament. That left a sour taste in the Pirates’ mouths and they’re using it as motivation to reach the regional playoffs this season. The Pirates are an experienced group, led by eight returning seniors.

Lemon Bay also is in Port Charlotte’s district, but struggled in 2015-16. Emilio Baradith has assumed the Manta Rays coaching duties, and he knows soccer — previously playing professionally for the Los Angeles Aztecs as well as in Chile. He’s hoping to begin building the program, starting with a goal this season of finishing above .500.

PORT CHARLOTTE
COACH: Joe Roca (3rd year)
LAST SEASON: 8-10-2
DISTRICT: 3A-14; Teams: Cape Coral, Cypress Lake, Dunbar, Island Coast, Lemon Bay, Mariner, North Fort Myers, Port Charlotte
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Jack Merritt
KEY RETURNERS: Nathan Ruth (Jr., F), Jeremiah Ruth (Sr., MF), Noah Couto (Sr., F), Hayden Wilder (Sr., MF), Hunter Cole (So., GK), Derek Botts (Sr., MF)), Tariq Chase (Sr., D), Joel Requena (Sr., D), BJ Nicholas (Sr., D), Nicolas Brand (Sr., MF)
KEY NEWCOMERS: Justin Ross (Fr., MF)
OUTLOOK: The Pirates loss in the district tournament quarterfinals has provided motivation to a team that has eight seniors and should propel the Pirates near the top of the standings again. The team has the ability to make the playoffs and should compete for a district title.

NORTH PORT
COACH: Gerard Gregoire (5th year)
LAST SEASON: 12-2-5; district champions; regional semifinals
DISTRICT: 4A-11; Teams: Braden River, Charlotte, North Port, Palmetto, Venice
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Tyler Smolik, Kevin Simontchik, Abraham Al-Arnasi, Matteo Gregoire, Matthew Menendez, Thomas Sousa, Miguel Melchor (ineligible)
KEY RETURNERS: Jeramiah Simontchik (Sr., MF), Reuben Bohdanets (Sr., F)
KEY NEWCOMERS: Marcello Obradovich (Jr., D & MF), Arthur Bohdanets (So., F & MF)
OUTLOOK: The season could go any which way. They could return to the regional semifinals or finish around .500. The entire defense graduated and then goalie Davian Farjdo suffered a season-ending knee injury over the summer. Daniel Gonzalez and David Kulakerich will compete to replace him. Given the defensive losses, leading goal scorer Reuben Bohdanets, who had 14 goals as a junior, will be counted on even more this season along with Jeremiah Simontchik. Coach Gerard Gregoire says his team shouldn’t have a problem scoring, but it’ll be up to a young defense to get the Bobcats to the playoffs.

LEMON BAY
COACH: Emilio Baradith, (1st season)
LAST SEASON: 3-10-1
DISTRICT: 3A-14; Teams: Cape Coral, Cypress Lake, Dunbar, Island Coast, Lemon Bay, Mariner, North Fort Myers, Port Charlotte
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Logan Boreni
KEY RETURNERS: Blake Dean (F), Matias Carbone (MF)
KEY NEWCOMERS: Pearson Van Dine (D), Diego Fernandez (F), Ben Crumpton (MF)
OUTLOOK: New coach Emilio Baradith brings to Lemon Bay a professional soccer background that includes playing in the U.S. and Chile. The Manta Rays have been working since July and should be in better physical shape. Whether that means wins is unknown, but Lemon Bay has hopes to finish above .500 while making some noise in the district.

CHARLOTTE
COACH: Alex Lebeau (3rd year)
LAST SEASON: 1-16-1
DISTRICT: 4A-11; Teams: Braden River, Charlotte, North Port, Palmetto, Venice
KEY PLAYERS LOST: Justin Uebelacker, Dalton Tryba, Michael Papa
KEY RETURNERS: Stephen Young (Sr., MF), Don Rapeau (Jr., MF)
KEY NEWCOMERS: Daniel Husk (Jr., D), Jonathan Villarreal (So., D)
OUTLOOK: Charlotte continues to be a work in progress, but the Tarpons should be more competitive. A host of players return, minus key defenders. Coach Alex Lebeau has lined up non-district games that he believes can help the Tarpons finish above .500. Although in a tough district, Lebeau’s goal is to get his team past the district tournament first round for a shot to make the playoffs with a semifinal win.

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