By Bruce Robins, Sun Correspondent
VENICE — One year after winning its first district title in boys soccer, North Port bowed out early this postseason, falling to Venice, 2-1, in overtime in the District 4A-11 semifinals Wednesday night.
The Indians Drue Streich scored on a penalty kick late in the first overtime period to end the Bobcats season, but not before third-seeded North Port took second-seeded Venice to the limit.
The Indians were awarded the penalty kick near the end of the overtime period when Bobcats goalkeeper Daniel Gonzalez was issued a yellow card following a collision with a Venice player in the penalty box. North Port starting goalie David Kulakevich had left the game earlier in the overtime with an injury after another collision with a Venice player. Gonzalez was forced the leave the game after the infraction, and the Bobcats brought forward Arthur Bohdanets into the net to face Streich.
“All I had to do was clear my head. I just thought about it going in,” Streich said. “I knew where I was going to hit it and I just let it fly. It just happened to go perfectly where I wanted it to go. The keeper went completely the other way.”
Streich only took the penalty kick because leading scorer John Gokey was suffering from leg cramps. North Port coach Gerard Gregoire felt Bohdanets had the best chance to deny the shot.
“I had a third goalkeeper on the bench, but I just felt maybe I could put someone else in who was a little bigger and give the guy a more imposing figure there, but it didn’t work,” Gregoire said.
The teams battled on even terms for most of regulation. Gokey got Venice on the board first with a penalty kick in the 29th minute, but the Bobcats tied it up just two minutes later when Reuben Bohdanets scored off a direct kick by Miguel Melchor.
North Port outshot Venice in regulation, 18-16. Kulakevich had nine saves for the Bobcats while Indians goalkeeper Grant Alexander was credited with six saves.
One year after winning its first district title, North Port ended its season with a record of 6-10-2.
“This was a season of missed chances for me,” Gregoire said. “We had our chances again this game. It hasn’t been any different from game one to game 18 now. Against a team that is good offensively like Venice, they’ve got guys up front who can do it. If you give them gifts like two penalty kicks, then unfortunately that’s a hard way to lose.
“But that’s part of the game and you’ve got to roll with it. We’ll move on to next year and hopefully we’ll come back with a big group and see if we can challenge again.”