By Gary Brown, Sun Correspondent
North Port’s Isabelle Rogers attempts a header on goal between Venice’s Katherine Jordan (25) and Hannah Dalton (2) on Tuesday night in North Port (Sun photo by John Kersten).
NORTH PORT – The North Port High School girls soccer team played their first Class 4A-11 match Tuesday night, and couldn’t overcome a slow start in losing to visiting Venice 5-2.
The Indians (2-1, 2-0) took a 3-0 advantage before Bobcats’ sophomore AD Troche banged in a 5-yard goal late in the first half. The Indians led 3-1 going into halftime.
The Indians got two goals from both senior Alexis Weaver and freshman Mason Schilling in taking the victory. Schilling’s first goal came with 13 minutes, 8 seconds remaining in the first half. Weaver’s first goal about five minutes later came on a pass from Schilling and got the Indians’ offense going.
“We just couldn’t find our technical tonight,” North Port coach Bill Callan said. “We couldn’t find our feet and other things. But we played better the last 15 minutes of the game.”
North Port (1-4, 0-1) scored its second goal with 13 minutes left in the contest when Hayley Royer took a pass from Arianne Guerra and fired the shot into the net. The Bobcats had several more chances to score after that, but just couldn’t put the ball into the net.
The Bobcats had two players share goalie duties. Jordann Kinkin was in goal in the first half and Kayla Gordan-Somers played goalie in the second half. They combined for nine saves.
The Indians fired 15 shots on goal (nine in the first half) to eight for the Bobcats. Gordan-Somers made a spectacular diving grab of the ball for a save midway through the second half.
“I think we played pretty well,” Venice coach Gary Bolyard said. “We made some lineup changes tonight and that helped.”
The Bobcats will take on host Palmetto at 7 p.m. Thursday in another district match. Venice will meet visiting Braden River in a district match at 7 p.m. Thursday.
North Port and Venice will meet again Dec. 8 on Venice’s field.
By Scott Lockwood, SunCoast Sports
When the District 4A-11 boys soccer schedule is released each year, the Venice Indians know that one of their biggest obstacles to a potential district title goes through their rivals from the south.
Thanks to a pair of goals each from John Gokey and Thura Zayyar, the Indians find themselves sitting at 2-0 in district play on the young season after riding a first half surge to a 4-1 victory over North Port Tuesday night at Wellfield Park in Venice.
Venice needed just five minutes to get on the board thanks to Zayyar, who took a pass from Ryan Jordan on the right side and blasted a short shot to the back of the net for the game’s first points.
Gokey later followed suit after taking a pass from Aron Smith and scoring from about 20 yards out.
“He just laid it into me and I got it to my left side,” Gokey said. “I ripped the shot and it happened to skip over the keeper with the wet ground.”
The Indians defense was doing a solid job of keeping the ball out of the North Port attack zone and away from goalkeeper Grant Alexander. One of the Bobcats’ best opportunities for a goal was thwarted when Venice defender Jason Warr ran Rueben Bohdanets down from behind and stopped a breakaway with a little over 10 minutes left in the half.
Zayyar would find the back of the net again in the 32nd minute after taking a pass from Gokey near midfield and scoring on a left-footed kick. Just before the break, Gokey emerged from a scrum directly in front of the North Port net for what would be Venice’s final goal of the game.
“We played a complete half,” Venice head coach Peter Tomich said. “We basically won the game in the first half. We wanted to be able to carry that over into the second half, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. We did get the win and that’s what counts.”
North Port flipped the script in the second half and controlled the ball for most of the final 40 minutes. The Bobcats peppered Alexander with 10 shots on net, but only got a single goal from Bohdanets in the 63rd minute to show for it.
North Port coach Gerard Gregoire said Tuesday’s game got off to a similar start to the Bobcats’ first game, a 4-0 loss to Lakewood Ranch.
“We gave up those early goals and just couldn’t recover,” Gregoire said. “We are a young team and we’re trying to find the right pieces to the puzzle. Tonight they obviously weren’t there, but we’ll adjust and move on.”
Gokey finished with the two goals and an assist. Alexander had 17 saves in net.
“It’s a great start and I couldn’t be happier with how we’re performing,” Tomich said. “It’s a good group of kids with great chemistry.”
Venice (3-0, 2-0) travels to Braden River on Thursday night. North Port (0-2, 0-2) will host Palmetto on Thursday.