By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
NORTH PORT — North Port High School easily bounced back from a loss earlier in the week, and wasted no time scoring goals Thursday night against Port Charlotte.
The Bobcats (1-1) defeated the Pirates (1-1) 5-0 thanks to a pair of goals from both Abey Nottingham and AD Troche.
“We played the soccer that we’ve been practicing,” North Port coach Bill Callan said. “We worked on our midfielder movement, and once we got that down, the through ball started happening. Where we broke down last game was at the midfield, and today we worked it out.”
Both of Nottingham’s goals came in the second half. The first was a shot from more than 35 yards out just three minutes after the break. Nottingham came through again in the 57th minute, off a perfect pass from Hayley Royer, who had two assists in the win.
The Bobcats struck for 40 shots against the Pirates, with 17 of them coming in the second half.
“North Port is a really good team,” Port Charlotte coach Chip Stec said. “They know how to possess the ball, they know how to pass the ball, and they play well together. They just have a very good team.”
Both teams combined for 16 fouls in the second half, as things started to get a little chippy with a five-goal match. Grace Stec and Doren Staley each picked up a yellow card in that second half for Port Charlotte towards the end of the night.
Stec, the Port Charlotte goalkeeper, accounted for four of her team’s 11 shots on the night. All of Stec’s shots were on a free kick following a North Port foul, and majority of the Pirates’ shots all night came off the free kick.
“I was just trying to generate offense, and get everybody in the box,” coach Stec said. “I was just trying to create some opportunities for us.”
The Bobcats were dominant all night, especially in the first half, where they unleashed 23 shots, 13 of which went on net.
North Port forced Stec to make 11 saves in that first half, as she finished with 20 saves on the night.
Arianne Guerra put the Bobcats on the board early, finding the back of the net in the 7th minute. Guerra was assisted by Royer, after a Port Charlotte turnover on a throw-in led to the North Port goal.
“I may have made a mistake at the beginning, by setting my team up with a 3-5-2,” Stec said. “We only had three in the back, and that’s when they scored the two goals really quick. I take the blame for that. I put my girls in a bad situation there.”
A little over a minute after Guerra’s goal, Troche scored on a long-distance shot over the head of Stec, to quickly put her team up 2-0 in the first half. Troche’s second goal later in the night was also from about 35 yards out.
“She’s a pretty special player,” Callan said of Troche. “Not only did she have a couple of goals, but she’s playing very, very well. She’s playing unselfish, and we’re very happy to have her.”
Port Charlotte begins district play next week with a match against Island Coast on Tuesday, and the Bobcats will host Lakewood Ranch.