PUNTA GORDA – The score of the games are written in the sand, to be quickly forgotten at about the same time as the next thunderstorm.
But these games that are being played for the Charlotte County Soccer Federation have a special meaning; an opportunity for high school players to get ready for when the games really matter starting in late October.
Area high schoolers started playing a six-week high school rec league this week, with the Pirates FC taking on the Charlotte County Football Club on Wednesday at South County Regional Park.
The teams cannot use their high school designations in a recreation league, but for all intents and purposes it was a game between varsity and junior varsity players of Charlotte and Port Charlotte high schools.
“It’s summertime and it’s a chance to work on some skills and play different positions. Nobody is fit so they were running out of gas,” said Greg Winkler, coach of Charlotte County FC and head boys soccer coach at Charlotte. “We’re doing something we haven’t done in the past and it’s something to improve the program.”
And the teams combined to put together a pretty good game, with a pair of accidental goals in the second half resulting in the teams settling for a 2-2 tie.
Charlotte County got the scoring going in the 24th minute as Juan Munoz blasted one from outside the box and over the reach of a surprised Pirate goalkeeper Kendrick Cryer and into the top of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Pirates FC evened it up toward the end of the half when A.J. Morales was fouled in the box for a penalty. Morales put the ball past Gavin Pennell to tie the game at the half.
The Pirates quickly gained the advantage in the second half when Charlotte County goalkeeper Nick Palma tried to boot the ball away, only to have it hit off Warner Mendia and into the net to give the Pirates a 2-1 lead.
Pirates FC dominated for much of the second half, with Palma making several great saves and the Pirates missing great opportunities.
That would prove costly as David Lawson tied the game in the closing minutes when his centering pass missed everybody ad everything except the far corner of the net to produce the tie.
It wasn’t particularly well-played and many of the players were not in game shape, but it got the kids out for real games, playing positions they wouldn’t ordinarily play.
“We looked good, though we were missing a lot of guys,” Lawson said. “A lot of these kids are new and we haven’t played together. We could have done better, but it was okay.”
Pirates FC coach Katie Root said her team is trying to get to know each other, which may have had something to do with the late goal.
“We are trying to work together and moving kids in positions they don’t usually play. I’m trying to feel everyone out,” Root said. “These games are important in that they play a competitive game and not just a scrimmage. It forces them to work in a game situation.”