By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
NORTH PORT — It was Senior Night for the North Port High School boys soccer team Tuesday night against Port Charlotte and it turned out to be a memorable one for all six seniors, thanks in large part to Reuben Bohdanets.
Bohdanets recorded a hat-trick — scoring all his goals in the second half — to lead the Bobcats to a 6-0 win over the Pirates at home. The senior also had an assist to his brother Arthur in the second half, a half that saw North Port score five goals to turn a close game into a rout.
“In the first half I had eight shots and zero goals, but in the second half I came out and had three goals and an assist. The second half is the way we wished we would’ve played the whole game,” Reuben Bohdanets said.
Evan Osborne scored North Port’s lone first-half goal in the 32nd minute, courtesy of an assist from Anthony Perez, while Jeremiah Simonthcik finished his Senior Night off with a goal late to close out the game. In honor of Senior Night, David Kulakevich also got the start in the net for North Port and finished with five saves.
Kulakevich didn’t see much action as North Port dominated possession, outshooting Port Charlotte 38-10. It was a complete 180-turn from the night before when the Bobcats (6-7-2) were thumped 7-3 by Lakewood Ranch, which was ranked fifth in the state and 22nd nationally.
“When the guys are lively, we’re going to have a lot of shots and hopefully we score a lot of goals. It didn’t happen in the first half, but after we got going a little bit we put some in the net,” North Port coach Gerard Gregoire said. “I’m happy for the seniors who got goals. Port Charlotte is resting players like they did last year at this time so it’s not the contest I want going into districts but it’s always good to get a win, especially with the way we’ve been struggling so I’m not going to complain.”
The Pirates (11-4-2) struggled without four starters who missed the game due to injury — Joel Requena (foot), Nate Ruth (back), Connor Gerofsky (back) and Hayden Wilder (sick). Port Charlotte coach Joe Roca held all four out to rest them up for the district tournament, which is now less than two weeks away.
Noah Couto is also dealing with a hamstring injury and left the game after North Port took a 3-0 lead on Arthur Bohdanets’ goal in the 47th minute.
“It doesn’t happen too often but it was one of those nights,” Roca said. “Overall, we’re a better team but we just didn’t play our game tonight. Even though I sat those guys out, it doesn’t matter — we should have been playing better. Our defensive third really gave up and when our defensive third just walks up, that kills you. I told them at halftime, ‘you’re walking. You’re not even hustling.’”
That pep little talk didn’t help the Pirates, who only trailed 1-0 at halftime. But after scoring just one goal on 21 shots in the first half, the odds started rolling in the Bobcats’ favor as they scored four goals in the first 16 minutes of the second half.
Bohdanets scored goals in the 44th, 52nd and 56th minutes to finish off a hat trick, as well as the Pirates.
“With that many shots coming in the first half, we expected the second half to go as it went,” Bohdanets said.
Jessie Krokis assisted Simonthcik’s goal in the 72 minute that ended a rough night for Port Charlotte goalkeeper Hunter Cole, who finished with 12 saves.