By Jordan Kroger, SunCoast Sports
PORT CHARLOTTE — Port Charlotte was an offensive machine against Island Coast Tuesday night, scoring eight goals.
But on Thursday night against Fort Myers, the Pirates could barely put a shot on goal, let alone score one.
Granted, against a much more talented opponent.
Thanks to goals from captains Kayla Thorne and Olivia Talmage, Fort Myers defeated Port Charlotte 2-0. The Green Wave dominated possession and outshot the Pirates 34-6, including 22-1 in the first half.
“The second half was a little bit better than the first half,” Port Charlotte coach Chip Stec said. “I thought overall, we played to the best of our ability and I knew coming into this game they had a very good team.”
The score could’ve been a lot worse if it hadn’t been for Port Charlotte goalkeeper Grace Stec. The junior finished with a remarkable 18 saves, and did all she could to keep the Pirates in the game.
Fort Myers controlled possession for a majority of the match even though Port Charlotte managed to put more shots on goal in the second half.
“We put a lot of pace on our passes and talked out there,” Fort Myers coach David Trepkowski said. “That’s what we discussed at halftime. We played a really good half against a really good team. We knew the game wasn’t over and they came out a lot stronger and we got a little bit tired toward the second half but they’re a really good team. They’ve really improved through the years. They’re well coached, they have an excellent goaltender and defensively they’re very, very strong.”
It took until the 23rd minute for Fort Myers (4-0) to get a ball past Stec when Talmage took a shot just inside the penalty box that was deflected by another player. Port Charlotte never had a chance to clear it as the ball rolled right to Thorne, who scored on the rebound to give the Green Wave a 1-0 lead.
Fort Myers later doubled its lead right before halftime in stoppage time when Port Charlotte’s defense failed to clear a ball, instead kicking it right to Talmage, who put it away for an easy goal.
Even with some bad luck, Stec put the loss on her shoulders.
“I’m pretty sure the two goals were probably my fault,” Stec said. “The first one I didn’t call early enough so I should have had it and the second one we just couldn’t clear the ball so I should’ve dived and moved my feet.”
Stec spoke like a true team captain, but she was put in tough situations all night. The junior even had to make a ridiculous save in the second half where she leaped up into the air, got her fingertips on a ball and sent it over the net on a shot headed by Savanna
Blevins in the 49th minute that should’ve extended Fort Myers’ advantage to 3-0.
“The game would have probably been over early (without Stec) to be honest with you but it is what it is,” Chip Stec said. “She made one nice save in the second half that I don’t know he she got to. That was a pretty nice save.”
As for what’s to come in practice to improve Port Charlotte’s offense — which seemed a step behind Fort Myers — Stec wants his team to work on its aggression.
“We have to get first to the ball,” Stec said. “Any type of 50-50 ball and the other team is there all the time and we don’t win them — if you don’t win 50-50 balls, you don’t win the game.”