NORTH PORT — After battling to a 1-1 draw through 100 minutes, it all came down to penalty kicks to decide the Class 6A-Region 2 semifinal between North Port and Palmetto Ridge Saturday night.
And in the end, the Bears scored on all five of their chances while the Bobcats could only cash in on four attempts, sending the visitors to a 2-1 victory and a spot in the Regional finals.
“It stings a bit,” Bobcats coach Joey Sorbino said. ”This team has come a long way. We started 0-6 last year. We’ve gotten a new coaching staff and we’ve changed the culture of the program in less than 12 months and we’re happy about it.”
The teams fought to a scoreless tie at the half, and the Bobcats were the first to get on the board 10 minutes into the second half when Jerimiah Bohdanets got a pass from Trevor Brown in front and found the back of the net to give North Port a 1-0 lead.
That’s how it stayed until there were 13 minutes to go in regulation when a foul was committed by the Bobcats just outside the penalty area. The Bears’ Deivid Madruga took the free kick from the top of the circle and put a perfectly placed shot past North Port goalkeeper Edgar Alejo to tie the game at 1-1.
Neither team could score for the rest of regulation or the two 10-minute overtime periods, sending the game to be decided by penalty kicks.
Each side cashed in on its first kick, but Palmetto Ridge goalie Christian Castillo denied the Bobcats second shooter, Justin Crehore. While Patrick Guerin, Brady Waltimyer, and Bohdanets were successful, when Alejandro Zuniga followed Bohdanets by putting his shot in the corner of the net, it gave the Bears the win and put an abrupt end to North Port’s season.
“(From) not even competing in our district to going to a regional semifinal is a huge jump in one year,” Sorbino said. “It speaks a lot to the (commitment) of our players and what we’re doing, but it’s never fun to lose that way.
“It’s a good team, they came in here and did what they had to do. I never like penalty kicks and I don’t think a lot of people do. But it is what it is. I think both teams played a great game. I can’t take anything away from them and I just hope they bring it home now.”
The Bobcats finished their season with a record of 10-8-3 while Palmetto Ridge improved to 13-9-1 and will face New Port Richey Mitchell for the Regional title on Tuesday.
NASCAR this week tweaked the backstretch chicane on the Daytona course after dirt and grass played a pivotal role in the Feb. 9 messy Busch Clash.
Drivers in that exhibition learned the hard way not to cut that chicane because in short-cutting some asphalt they were dragging debris all over the speedway. Martin Truex Jr. wrecked while leading when he drove through dirt; others complained about windshield visibility.