The battle for the upper hand in District 4A-11 turned into a one-sided affair as Venice used a big second half and a strong defense to blank North Port, 5-0, Friday night.
Mason Schilling scored twice for Venice and Kat Jordan had three assists as the Indians improved to 9-0 on the season
The Indians led 1-0 at halftime, despite controlling play and holding the Bobcats without a shot for the first 40 minutes.
“We were controlling the game, but we didn’t put the ball in the net,” Venice coach Gary Bolyard said. “Just came out of the gate slow. They weren’t doing what we talked about, but they settled down and everything was fine.”
The Indians got the only goal of the first half in the 13th minute as Rachel Dalton took a pass from Jordan directly in front of the net and beat Bobcat goalkeeper Jordan Wyatt for a 1-0 lead. Wyatt kept Venice from scoring again for the rest of the half, but North Port could do nothing on offense.
“You’ve got to recognize the first thing,” Bobcats coach Hans Duque said. “At this point in the season, Venice is the superior team. They got it together, and now it’s time for us to put it together as well.”
Four minutes into the second half, Schilling got Venice on the board again with a shot from the left side off a throw-in from Olivia Fair. In the 64th minute, Maddy Krause got a pass from Jordan and went in alone on Wyatt. When the North Port keeper came out to challenge, it left a wide open net for Krause to make it 3-0.
In the final minutes, the Bobcats began pressing on offense, getting off their only two shots on goal of the game. However, it also left the back line vulnerable, and Venice capitalized with two breakaway goals in the final minutes. Schilling got her second of the game and 14th of the season with an assist from Jordan in the 75th minute, and Kiki Slattery added the final goal with an assist from Kaya Bartlett in the 77th minute.
“After the third goal we tried to go up there and see if we could attack instead of just defend,” Duque said. “We were trying to control more of the midfield and that’s what’s going to happen. It didn’t work and they scored a couple of more times. Time to go back to the pitch and figure it out.”
“We’re happy with the clean sheet and the shutout,” Bolyard said. “We were disappointed in our last game getting a couple of goals scored on us. Our defense is really young but let me tell you, they’re going together. They’re starting to jell and they’re starting to figure things out.”
Venice sits atop the district with a 4-0 record, while North Port suffered its first loss of the year and fell to 4-1-1 overall and 2-1 in district play.
“I know the girls are going to take it hard because it’s Venice and the rivalry and all that,” Duque said. “We’ve got to play them again and this is not the end of the season. There’s still a long way to go. It is what it is. it’s very easy to win, the difficult part is to lose and still keep it together and I’m pretty sure they’re hurt right now, but we’ll have to go back Monday and figure things out.”
North Port has another district matchup with Palmetto on Tuesday night while Venice will take on Sarasota Military Academy on Monday in a non-district game.