By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
NORTH PORT — Pardon the pun, but Friday night was a tale of two halves for the North Port High School boys soccer team.
After scoring zero goals on 19 shots in the first half, the Bobcats exploded for six goals in the match’s final 33 minutes to roll to a 6-0 District 4A-11 victory over Charlotte at home in a torrential downpour. Rueben Bohdanets and Jeremiah Simonthcik each scored two goals while Bohdanets assisted two others.
Arthur Bohdanets and Lucian Oros also scored goals for the Bobcats (5-6-2, 3-5) while goalkeeper Daniel Gonzalez had four saves.
“It was percentages I guess at the end of the day, and some really good defending by [Charlotte]. That was my comment to my guys at halftime,” North Port coach Gerard Gregoire said. “I said that’s how you defend — last ditch defending and putting everything on the line, so [there’s] a lot to be learned for my guys to say, ‘hey, what is it worth to you to commit and try and keep a zero for your team.’ I commend Charlotte for doing that and then finally we had a breakthrough and kind of broke their backs.”
Charlotte goalkeeper Jason Gaudemer finished with 15 saves and had nine of those stops in the first half to keep the Tarpons (2-11, 1-7) in it. But the North Port ultimately outshot Charlotte 36-8 and the pressure was eventually too much for Gaudemer to contain.
“Pretty much what we do as a team is sometimes I believe we just lack the confidence and it’s there and it’s there and we believe it, but as soon as it fails one time, it snowballs. We think ‘oh, it’s over.’ That’s been our problem for years,” Charlotte coach Alex Lebeau said. “We can hang with any of the best teams in the district but as soon as a goal goes in it’s like we’ve lost. We were going for a 0-0 and we lost it.”
The Bobcats finally broke through in the 47th minute when Simonthcik took a pass from Reuben Bohdanets and turned it into a goal for a 1-0 lead. Arthur Bohdanets followed his brother’s lead eight minutes later with his own goal thanks to an assist from Lukian Bogdanets.
The goals started to come in bunches for the Bobcats from there. Rueben Bohdanets turned a steal into his first goal in the 65th minute before Camilo Arrange dished a pass to Lucian Oros for the game’s fourth goal in the 67th minute.
Javier Amaya assisted Bohdanets’ second goal in the 74th minute and Simonthcik finished off the rout with his second goal in the 79th minute.
“This is very discouraging. I was just telling them it’s not fair to us to look at six [goals] and think that’s what we deserve,” Lebeau said. “We didn’t deserve to win tonight but we didn’t deserve to lose by six.”
For now, the win moves North Port into third place in the district, a half game ahead of Braden River, which has one more district game against first-place Palmetto on January 10. The Bobcats can’t catch second-place Venice in the standings.
Friday night was also North Port’s second straight shutout, two days after defeating Jesuit, ranked 47th in the state by MaxPreps, 1-0 on the road.
“We’re starting to get going. Hopefully we can continue a little streak going and get confidence,” Gregoire said. “I still think there’s a little bit in the kids heads that ‘where do we match up?’ and I’ve been telling them all year we’re as good as them. On any day we can beat Venice and we can Palmetto and that’s why I said what I said at the beginning o the year — I believe in what we have here. It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. That’s what I’m hoping.”