Venice gave a much older North Port team all it could handle on senior night, but the Bobcats used their remarkably talented front line to strike twice in a 2-0 win.
The Bobcats (12-4-1) controlled the ball for most of the night and earned more scoring opportunities, but only managed to cash in twice due to steady play from a motivated Venice (3-11) team.
“Unfortunately, we fell asleep two times and they scored two goals,” Venice associate head coach Greg Atkin said. “They didn’t create a lot of clear chances because we defended so tight, but all they need is one or two chances.”
In a very competitive first half, both teams missed a few early opportunities before senior Thomas Sousa finally gave North Port the lead.
In the 29th minute, Calani Carrion-Soto dribbled the ball wide of the box and passed a delicate cross into the center of the box where a cutting Sousa was able to re-direct the ball to the right of the keeper and into the net to make it 1-0.
“I saw Calani going down the left side,” Sousa said. “He played the ball in and I was just there to finish it. It was a complete replica goal of what I assisted him on yesterday against Riverview.”
Sousa re-emerged as a veteran leader for the Bobcats this year after sitting out during his junior season. He said the experience away from the team made him appreciate the role the group has played in his life.
“It really made me learn to cherish the moments and not take them for granted because you never know when it’s going to be gone,” said Sousa. “It’s just a good feeling to be back out here doing what I love because I haven’t felt this kind of passion in a while.”
North Port head coach Joey Sorbino admitted he couldn’t think of a more appropriate goal-scorer on senior night.
“When Thomas stepped away from the program, it hurt us for sure,” said Sorbino. “Every time he’s out there, he’s one of the best players on the field by far. He’s been chomping at the bit to get a goal. I know it felt special for him. He’s a vocal leader on the field and he’s meant everything to this team.”
The Bobcats tacked on their second goal in the 52nd minute. The score started with a cross from left of the box again. This time, John Victor Bogdanets was on the receiving end, laying out full extension into the grass to head the ball forward.
The Bobcats goalkeeper and back line took care of the rest.
North Port’s defense quickly snuffed out all of Venice’s chances while goalkeeper Alvaro Amaya communicated well and aggressively cleaned up any loose balls.
“It’s excellence,” Sorbino said of Amaya’s play. “It’s what we’ve seen all season. Even when we’re out of games, he’s keeping us in them. He continues to show us that he has more and more skill and more room for growth every time he steps on the field. That back line gave them almost zero chance for 80 minutes. If you do that, you’re going to win games.”
Venice, who possesses half as many seniors as North Port, is molding its roster for next season. Atkin was pleased with his team’s effort Friday and is excited for what the future holds.
“We’ve come a long way in being able to compete physically,” he said. “In the first half of the season, we weren’t able to compete physically. Now, we’re able to compete physically, but we’re just a little bit slower and less experienced where it counts. I can’t wait to see North Port next year. It’ll be a different story.”