By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
ARCADIA — Port Charlotte High School’s boys soccer team faced a lot of adversity against DeSoto County Wednesday night.
The Pirates faced a one-goal deficit, a two-goal deficit and even had a goal taken away in a very questionable call.
But when it was all said and done, they fought back in the game’s final moments to walk away without a loss.
Nate Ruth’s goal in stoppage time saved the Pirates (11-3-2) from their fourth loss of the season as they pulled off a 3-3 draw with the Bulldogs (9-4-2) on the road. The junior’s equalizer deflected off of a DeSoto County defender but still managed to skip its way towards the bottom corner of the net.
“When I shot it I knew it was going in. I hit it back post and was just sure it was going in,” Ruth said.
That shot came less than two minutes after Joel Requena scored a breakaway goal to pull the Pirates within striking distance. Requena scored two goals on the night, matching Francisco Gonzalez’s total for the Bulldogs, and he had another called off on a questionable handball call in the 64th minute that would’ve tied the match at 2-2.
When the game was finally over, the Pirates felt like the scoreboard should’ve read 4-3.
“That was questionable right there, but hey, it’s the ref’s call. They make mistakes too so you can’t say anything bad,” Port Charlotte coach Joe Roca said. “But I still think it was a goal.”
Sergio Alvarez also scored for DeSoto County and his goal put the Bulldogs up 3-1 in the 71st minute when his shot bounced off the hands of Port Charlotte goalkeeper Hunter Cole and into the net.
But unlike the first time these two teams met, which ended with a 3-1 victory for the Bulldogs, the Pirates found a way to rally.
“That third goal kind of got to [Cole] and it was all up to us to come up and just punch two goals in,” Roca said. “I’m just glad this was a tie. I didn’t want to lose to this team again.”
Believe or not, the game was actually scoreless at halftime. But after the teams combined for just nine shots in the first half, they tallied 23 total in the final 40 minutes.
Cole finished with 13 saves on a night he’d probably like to forget. Besides surrendering Alavarez’s goal in off his hands, he also slipped coming out to grab a ball in the 50th minute that allowed Gonzalez to score into an open net and break a scoreless tie.
Luckily for Cole, it didn’t take long for Requena to answer Gonzalez’s first strike with one of his own as he scored in the 54th minute on an assist from Hayden Wilder. Gonzalez later put the Bulldogs up 2-1 in the 62nd minutes, courtesy of a header from teammate Benito Vazquez.
DeSoto County outshot Port Charlotte 19-13 and got three saves from goalkeeper Luis Sarmiento.