SOCCER: Season starts right for Port Charlotte boys

By Pete Sisk, Sun Correspondent

Port Charlotte's Nathan Ruth looks to get around Island Coast's Crystian Franco during Tuesday's game (Sun photo by Kat Godina).

Port Charlotte’s Nathan Ruth looks to get around Island Coast’s Crystian Franco during Tuesday’s game (Sun photo by Kat Godina).

CAPE CORAL – Soccer season is off on the right foot for Port Charlotte High School.

The Pirates jumped out to a fast start on the night and on the year Tuesday night with a 5-1 victory at Island Coast High School.

Coach Joe Roca’s boys (1-0, 1-0 District 3A-13) grabbed 4-0 lead in the first half against the Gators (0-1, 0-1).

“I’m still trying to figure it out, how I’m working my offense and my defense,” Roca said of his team. “What we did today was push everybody forward, because in the preseason we were back a little bit. We hadn’t been aggressive in the preseason,” when the Pirates fell 5-1 to Cape Coral.

“I’ve got some returning players who came back,” Roca said. “In the preseason I didn’t have my starters. Right now I’m still waiting for some guys to come back. But compared to last season we have a little bit more control of the ball, which is what I was looking for.

“When we played them last year they were tough, but this year we were a little more ready for them.”

Senior midfielder Jeremiah Ruth and junior striker Nate Ruth each scored twice for Port Charlotte. Jeremiah Ruth added an assist and Michael Balsea scored the fifth Pirates goal.

Roca said he both was and wasn’t surprised when his team jumped out front so quickly.

“The guys followed everything I said, and the positions they were playing were the right positions. They played their positions well.”
“One or two goals, they did something good and they got us on that one,” Island Coast coach Rob Malpica said. “I would say on the other ones, a lot of positioning, knowing where your teammate is, knowing where you’re supposed to be standing, some communication. We let a couple get away that we probably should have had.”

Roca said he was pleased to see his defense clog up the middle and force the Gators to the outside then they were on the attack.

Carlos Pizarro got the Gators on the board on a set play, a long kick from near midfield in the second half. Jeremiah Ruth stretched the margin back to four goals moments thereafter, making his way through three defenders and beating Island Coast goalkeeper Bryan Martin.

“This is what we needed,” Roca said. “We needed to come out here and do our job. Last year kind of gave us a bad taste in our mouth against this team. This team is good.”

Pirates keeper Hunter Cole, a sophomore, held the Gators to that single long, long goal by Pizarro.

“We do have a lot of very talented players,” Malipca said. “We are very young. We have nine sophomores, we have six juniors and we have four seniors. Only two of the seniors start. All of our forwards are underclassmen, all of our midfielders are underclassmen. And they’re new. They’re all new to each other, they’re new to the school. Some of them are new to the country. There is a little bit of a language barrier. Sometimes things that (ordinarily) take a week to figure out take two or three weeks.”

While not all district opponents are home-and-home, these two teams will get back together in Port Charlotte on Dec. 13.

“Coming in, they’re obviously better than they were last year,” Malpica said. “I think talent-wise we’re leaps and bounds ahead of last year. The sky’s the limit. When you start off with only two wins last year, obviously it can only go up.”

Roca said, “It’s the first game. We’ve still got to see what we have to do. It’s a long season.

“Yes, I am very happy for the first game.”

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