By Gary Brown, Sun Correspondent
VENICE — It took awhile, but the Venice girls soccer team showed Wednesday night why it’s the top seed in the Class 4A-9 disrict tournament.
Venice defeated fourth-seeded Charlotte 3-1 on the Indians’ field, and will host North Port, a 2-1 winner over Bayshore, in the championship match at 7 p.m. today. Both North Port and Venice will advance to the 4A regionals.
The Tarpons hung tough with the Indians for almost the entire first half before giving up a penalty kick. Venice’s Mason Schilling was tripped in the box, and the freshman made the Tarpons (7-9-3) pay by converting the chance for a 1-0 lead at halftime.
The Indians (14-5-1), opened up in the second half. Senior Alexis Weaver took a pass from junior Sarah Dalton and fired it into the goal about three minutes into the half. Junior Jennifer White then gave the Indians a 3-0 advantage with a goal from point-blank range.
The Tarpons, though, refused to quit. Caitlyn Lowery fired in a goal from the right side with about 10 minutes left in the contest. Her twin sister Brooke had an assist on the play. Caitlyn and Brooke, both juniors, also had some near misses on shots.
Despite the loss, Charlotte goalie Cheyenne Gaudemer had an excellent night. The Indians outshot the Tarpons 14-6, but Gaudemer has six saves under a furious offensive rush.
“She had a great game,” Charlotte coach Amanda Carr said of Gaudemer. “She had several great saves. We match their (Venice) tempo and we played them tough in three games.”
Indians goalie Samantha Hoffman only had three saves, but the Tarpons weren’t able to get off many shots.
Venice coach Gary Bolyard admitted Charlotte played his team tough.
“They give it their all,” he said. “We had a lot of scoring opportunities in the first half but just couldn’t put it in the net until the penalty kick.
“But we’re in the finals and we’ll be going on to the regionals.”