By Pete Sisk, Sun Correspondent
This is a loss the Port Charlotte Pirates can live with.
Lely’s Gerardo Martinez scored the game-winner with just under seven minutes to play as the Trojans got past the Pirates 2-1 Friday night at Port Charlotte High School.
For Port Charlotte coach Joe Roca, what matters is getting his reserves some playing time, and his squad ready for the District 3A-13 tournament.
“I’m trying to basically use my whole team,” Roca said. “We’re getting ready for districts. To me, this is just a game. It doesn’t matter.
“I’m trying to get everybody in, and see what we can do in districts.”
In high school soccer, the last district game is well before the tournament, allowing teams an opportunity to do some fine-tuning down the stretch – and maybe come up with some new wrinkles to throw at unsuspecting district foes.
The Pirates (11-4-2) have three regular-season matches left before the tournament, in which Port Charlotte (5-2 in district) will be the third seed. The tournament is scheduled to begin Jan. 21, with Cypress Lake and Cape Coral as the top two seeds.
“We should have been a little more aggressive,” Roca said. “Our defense played well, but our offense didn’t play well today.
“They’ll come around. We’re basically just shaking things up a little bit, moving things around.”
Jeremiah Ruth got Port Charlotte on the board first Friday night, taking a pass from Justin Ross and firing a shot from the left side of the Lely goal across the crease and into the right side of the net.
Lely (8-7-1) pulled even midway though the first half. A perfect pass from Juan Avila got striker Brisnel Dorcely loose on a breakaway. While three Pirates defenders hustled to get back, Dorcely was able to fire the ball past Hunter Cole into the Port Charlotte goal.
A light rain began late in the first half, turning into a steady downpour throughout the second half.
The Trojans dominated time of possession in the second half. Cole made some solid saves, including one where he was able to tap a shot just over the crossbar.
“He’s come a long way,” Roca said of Cole. “He’s doing great in goal.”
Cole and his defense managed to keep Lely in check until Martinez’s late tally.
“It was a good game,” Roca said. “They were the better team today.”
Port Charlotte, which travels to North Port on Tuesday, is back home for Senior Night versus Charlotte on Jan. 12 and closes out the regular season Jan. 17 at Lemon Bay.