By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
NORTH PORT — Both teams took the same amount of shots.
But only one came away with a critical district win.
Drue Streich scored two goals — and was later ejected for two yellow cards — to help Venice High School defeat North Port 3-2 on the road in a District 4A-11 contest Thursday night. Thura Zayyar also scored for the Indians, who held off a late North Port surge to defeat the Bobcats for the second time this season.
Rueben and Arthur Bohdanets both scored a goal for the Bobcats, who trailed 2-0 at halftime. Both teams took 17 shots on goal but another slow start came back to bite North Port again in the end.
The loss drops North Port (3-4-1, 1-3 District 4A-11) two games behind both Venice (6-1-2, 4-1-1) and Palmetto in the district standings.
“My overall thoughts are disappointment in trying to get a foothold back in the district,” North Port Gerard Gregoire said. “It was in our hands a second ago before the game started and then we make silly mistakes to go down 2-0. I credit the kids for battling back but we can’t keep making the same mistakes we’re making and expect to get back to a district championship.”
The rivalry between North Port and Venice was as chippy as ever Thursday night, with a total of six yellow cards handed out.
Streich received his second yellow card with Venice leading 3-1 in the 69th minute when he got tangled up with North Port goalkeeper Daniel Gonzalez chasing down a loose ball. Gonzalez took offense to it, both players stood up, met face to face and the referee broke the meeting up by handing out a yellow card to each player.
That sent Streich to the bench for the rest of the game with an ejection while David Kulakevich replaced Gonzalez — who finished with eight saves — for the final 10-plus minutes of the match.
Streich’s ejection seemed to wake the Bobcats up a little as Arthur Bohdanets scored a goal less than a minute later on an assist from his brother Rueben. It certainly put the Indians on edge for the rest of the match but the Bobcats couldn’t get another shot passed Venice goalkeeper Grant Alexander, who saved six shots on the night.
“We played in spurts. They took it to us. For 20 minutes of the game they had us on the ropes,” Venice coach Peter Tomich said. “But the recovery of this team is really good because of the shifts in player personnel we put in to stop their push. That’s what we did. We just basically had to hold on.”
Players also got more aggressive towards the end of the night and both Rueben Bohdanets and Graham Youngblood received yellow cards for the Bobcats in stoppage time. North Port’s Kalani Carrion also received a yellow card in the 46th minute.
The totality of it all was enough to stress out Tomich, who joked he had a few more grey hairs following the game.
“We have these games all the time. It’s just amazing how competitive it is, which is good, but as a coach it makes you age,” Tomich said.
Venice started the night fast, scoring a goal less than three minutes in off the foot of Zayyar, who followed up a deflection when North Port failed to clear the ball out of its own territory. Streich then doubled the lead in the 39th minute on an assist from Ryan Jordan to send the Indians into halftime with a 2-0 lead.
Rueben Bohdanets cut North Port’s deficit in half with a score in the 48th minute but Streich struck again less than 12 minutes later for what would turn out to be the game-winning goal on an assist from Dylan Lifton.