By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PUNTA GORDA — The North Port High School girls soccer team needed five goals in the second half to erase an early deficit against Charlotte back in December.
No such dramatics were required Thursday night, as the Bobcats easily defeated the Tarpons 4-1 this time around.
“We sured up the back line a little bit,” North Port coach Bill Callan said. “They have some pretty talented players over there, but we made sure their main goal scorer had someone who could match her speed stay on her, and the girls executed.”
A goal from Seriah Bailey in the 19th minute turned out the be the game-winner. Bailey received pass from Sam Freitas near the top of the box, and one-timed it to the back of the net.
The goal for Bailey was her first of two on the night, the second giving the Bobcats a 4-0 lead in the 43rd minute when she scooped up a loose ball and took it all the way for a score.
Both Bailey and Freitas played a role in North Port’s opening goal in the ninth minute of the game. It began when AD Troche found Bailey with a perfect lead pass, and Bailey quickly gave it to Freitas, who took a shot that forced Charlotte goalkeeper Cheyenne Gaudemer to give up an open net on the rebound.
Hayley Royer took care of the rebound for an early Bobcat strike.
“They did a good job of keeping us in check up top,” Charlotte coach Amanda Carr said. “There were some errors we made on our end. There were a couple of tactical errors we can get ready for by the time districts come.”
North Port (8-5) dominated much of the match, out-shooting Charlotte 24-8. Gaudemer had to make 11 saves to keep the Tarpons in the game, which saw a majority of play in her defensive zone.
When the Tarpons did have the ball, they weren’t able to get it to their biggest offensive threat in Caitlyn Lowery. Bobcats Abey Nottingham and Augusta Purvis spent a majority of the night shadowing Lowery, who scored four goals the last time these two faced faced off.
“We just made sure she was covered at all times,” Callan said of Lowery. “I think that was the key to the game. She’s a dominant, great player. I enjoy watching her play, but we had to do what we could to keep her from scoring, and we were able to do that tonight.”
The North Port defense stood strong the whole night, only allowing a goal when Charlotte’s Morgan Brown scored off a corner kick, which bent through the hands of goalkeeper Jordann Kinkin.
Arianne Guerra gave the Bobcats an insurance goal in the 38th minute, when she received a pass from Alexis Abene, putting it behind Gaudemer for a 3-0 lead. It was crisp passing for North Port that led to three of its four goals.
“We’ve been working very hard on midfielder movement, and working the ball through the middle, to the outside, and then back to the middle. We were able to execute that tonight.” Callan said.
Charlotte (5-7-1) tried a little bit of different strategy to open the match, having typical defender Brooke Lowery play up with Caitlyn. This had worked in the past for the Tarpons, but the sisters were unable get anything going on Thursday.