By Pete Sisk, Sun Correspondent
With district tournaments starting Monday, the Port Charlotte and Charlotte girls soccer teams got a taste of postseason intensity Thursday night.
The Pirates spoiled the Tarpons’ Senior Night with a 2-0 victory in a game as intense as anything either team will face next week and beyond.
“It’s a big rivalry game,” Port Charlotte coach Chip Stec said.”They had Senior Night tonight. I know a lot of those senior girls over there. I feel sorry for them because they lost on their senior night, but I’m also very proud of my girls because they came out and played very, very well.”
Port Charlotte (10-9) scored once in each half. Asia Mazieko blasted a high shot that Charlotte goalkeeper Frenchie Gaudemer got a hand on — but not quite enough of the ball to push it over the net – for an unassisted goal less than five minutes into the match.
“Probably the best shot of her career,” Stec said.
The margin remained 1-0 for most of the night. The Tarpons (6-8-1) seized the momentum early in the second half, with Karina Arias firing several shots on Pirates goalie Grace Stec only to have Stec make the save.
Midway through the second half, Charlotte lost both a key player and the momentum when fearless midfielder Anacely Zervos went down with an injury.
“Anacely is definitely one of our impact players,” Tarpons coach Amanda Carr said. “It did hurt us a bit to lose her out of the middle, because she tends to carry the momentum for us on the field.”
After play resumed, the Pirates took command.
The end result was that a corner kick started a scramble in front of Gaudemer, with Dayna Borges finally scoring on an assist from Emily Porto with just over 17 minutes remaining.
“We tried to work a couple of different options, but some of our players were getting tired,” Carr said. “We had to keep rotating players in, and that changed the momentum” along with the time stoppage for Zervos’ injury.
It was a tough end for the Tarpons on an emotional night.
“Two things rolled together (Senior Night and the rivalry) and it caused a lot of water works,” Carr said.
“It’s always great to play PC, especially with the talent that they have. Both teams definitely bring out the best in each other.”
The mutual respect showed with hugs between players on the two teams at game’s end.
“It’s always going to be something” when Port Charlotte and Charlotte get together, Chip Stec said. “It’s very respectful, but it’s a rivalry, and I know my girls wanted to win really bad.
“It’s a good way to finish our year.”
The night’s emotion needs to pass quickly. District play starts Monday.