By Chuck Ballaro, Sun Correspondent
PORT CHARLOTTE – When the Port Charlotte High School boys soccer team needed a spark, Jeremiah Ruth provided it.
The forward scored on a beautiful header off a free kick in the 61st minute to get the Pirates on the board, then used sheer will three minutes later to score the tying goal as Port Charlotte rallied to a 2-2 tie Friday night against North Port in a non-district contest at the Pirates’ Cove.
Despite the rally, Port Charlotte coach Joe Roca was far from satisfied with the effort.
“We were flat. We were not on our game as we usually are in the first half,” Roca said. “We talked about passes having to be accurate and motivating ourselves to score goals.”
The Pirates (7-2-1) heeded the message. Down 2-0, Noah Couto delivered a perfect free kick to the far post that Ruth headed on the near side past Bobcat goalkeeper Daniel Gonzalez to cut the lead in half.
Moments later, Ruth took a ball in the box, somehow kept possession with several North Port players on his back, saw the opening again on the near side, and blasted it in the net to tie the game.
“Jeremiah has been very aggressive this year. He knows he wants that ball and go gets it and scores. He’s always been there,” Roca said.
“My teammate made the run to the front post, which left me open in the back. Noah sent me a beautiful ball on the first goal,” Ruth said. “On the second goal I was trying to get the ball through and found the open space and took it.”
The Pirates had to wonder where this play was earlier. For much of the night, North Port (3-3-1) dominated the action. Rueben Bohdanets got the Bobcats on the board in the 30th minute off a steal and pass from Jeremiah Simonthcik to make it 1-0, where it stayed at the half.
In the 53rd minute, Bohdanets used his defense to set up North Port. He got the steal and passed it to a breaking Camilo Arango, who pushed it past Hunter Cole for a 2-0 lead.
But the Bobcats, playing its third game in a week and on back-to-back nights, tired toward the end, allowing the Pirates to rally.
Bobcat coach Gerard Gregoire, didn’t use it as an excuse, and the tie left him disconsolate after blowing a two-goal lead.
“We gave them some hope and they got the momentum and put it to us. I made wholesale changes every 20 minutes and there can’t be drop off in depth when I put them in there,” Gregoire said. “When you’re up 2-0, you have to control the tempo. We let it get away from us.”