BOYS SOCCER: Port Charlotte surges after power outage

By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports

Port Charlotte's Nate Ruth (right) moves to steal the ball from Sarasota's Ben Grijala, during Monday night's game at Port Charlotte (Sun Photo by Michele Haskell)

Port Charlotte’s Nate Ruth (right) moves to steal the ball from Sarasota’s Ben Grijala, during Monday night’s game at Port Charlotte (Sun Photo by Michele Haskell)

PORT CHARLOTTE — The Pirates overcame adversity in a variety of ways for victory Monday night.

First, there was a driving rainstorm in the first half.

Then, a power outage in the second, all piled on top of an early one-goal deficit.

But when the lights finally came back on in the 52nd minute, Port Charlotte High School surged with the power.

Noah Couto scored two goals and the Ruth brothers scored two more to lead Port Charlotte to a 4-1 win over Sarasota at home. The Pirates scored three goals in the final 28 minutes, including two by Couto, to pull away from the Sailors.

“I didn’t have a good first half but I got back on it in the second half,” Couto said. “I just wasn’t getting as many shots as I wanted [in the first half] and wasn’t happy with my performance.”

He was happy by the end of the night, a night that also included an assist to Jeremiah Ruth for Port Charlotte’s first goal. Couto took a free kick just outside the penalty box in the 22nd minute and sent it left to Ruth, who connected with the ball to tie the match 1-1.

Ruth’s goal came less than four minutes after Brad Gelb had put the Sailors (0-5-1) up 1-0 and miraculously made the rain stop. It also served as a wakeup call to the Pirates (6-2), who lost to DeSoto County last week after another slow start.

“Against DeSoto we just didn’t have it. We came out flat,” Port Charlotte coach Joe Roca said. “Sometimes we come out flat and just can’t pick it up. We started flat tonight in the beginning, too. But that goal did wake them up and it’s good that they woke up.”

The lights on the field went out less than 12 minutes into the second half with the match tied and the outage caused an 18-minute delay. But the delay also allowed the Pirates to regroup and for the coaches to deliver a simple message: get your heads in the game.

“We talked at halftime and when the lights were off,” said Port Charlotte goalkeeper Hunter Cole, who finished with 10 saves. “We all worked together [during the break] and coach was telling us the defense needed to tighten up.”

The defense did while the offense exploded.

Nate Ruth scored the go-ahead goal in the 67th minute when Sarasota goalkeeper Mark Martinez came out to try and clear the ball on a pass from Couto. Instead, Ruth beat Martinez to the ball and dribbled around him, shooting the ball into the empty net to putthe Pirates up 2-1.

Port Charlotte doubled the lead in the 73rd minute when Jeremiah Ruth sent a pass from midfield up to his brother, who tapped it over to Couto for the senior’s first goal of the night.

Couto’s second goal came in the 79th minute on a penalty kick after Marvin Sanchez tackled Nate Ruth in the penalty box, resulting in a yellow card. The Sailors lost their a cool a bit in the game’s final minutes as Juan Aragon was also handed a yellow card just two minutes prior.

Martinez had three saves on 13 shots, all in the second half. He replaced Jonathan Fulkert at intermission and that decision ultimately backfired on the Sailors.

It certainly caught Roca by surprise, considering Fulkert had six saves in the first 40 minutes. The Pirates ultimately outshot the Sailors 21-16.

“I was very surprised they changed goalies because [Fulkert] is a good goalie,” Roca said. “I was very surprised. They moved him to defense. He’s pretty good in the field but I was surprised. But hey, I guess that’s the coach’s choice.”

“I’m just glad I’m going home in peace.”

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