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North boys soccer looks to get over hump

November 29, 2018
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The North Fort Myers High School boys soccer team, despite missing several of its starters, had a couple golden opportunities to earn victories recently at the Beef O' Brady's soccer tournament in Punta Gorda.

Unfortunately, on both occasions the Red Knights fell just short against Charlotte and Lemon Bay, and following a 1-1 draw with Riverdale, that left the team without a victory in their last four games following an opening victory against South Fort Myers.

Playing the Tarpons on a cool Saturday morning, North got off to a fast start, with Luke Ciganek clanking one off the post early on.

Article Photos

North Fort Myers’ Jorge Arias brings the ball downfield during a match against Charlotte at the Beef O' Brady's soccer tournament.


Despite that, it was Charlotte that got the first goal in the 19th minute in from Francesco Buscemi, and it took several great saves from Logan Wolfe to keep North in the game.

Finally, North pulled even in the 53rd minute (of a 60-minute match) when Eric Budzisch found Garrett Palow, who put the ball past Charlotte goalkeeper Gavin Pennell.

As this was a tournament, it would take a penalty kick shootout to determine a winner. But on this day, North Fort Myers had no luck at all, failing on all four of its shots, missing high on the first two and stopped by Pennell on the last two as Charlotte won the shootout 2-0.

Doug Palow, North's head coach said his team played well despite having five of their starters out for a showcase in North Carolina, but should have won the game.

"We should never have allowed that first goal. We should have won 1-0. But we held our own pretty well," Palow said, who is in his second stint as North's head coach.

The Red Knights have seen many great players go to Cape Coral and Mariner, both regional powers, leaving them with what's left. It has shown in the results, as last season they went 3-17-3 with a very young team.

This season, North has been competitive in its matches early. Palow's team has been working hard and the defense has been quite good.

Against Lemon Bay later in the day, that seemed to be the case as Jorge Arias scored in the ninth minute and held the lead for much of the match.

The Manta Rays rallied, however, and two Ben Crumpton goals, the final one in stoppage time, dealt North a 2-1 defeat.

Budzisch, a team captain and forward, said it was disappointing how things turned out, but to come away with that result is promising, even if they do have to work on penalty kicks.

"Shootouts are a great experience for us, especially since we have a lot of inexperienced kids. There's a lot to this game that you have to practice, and not many get a chance to practice shootouts or penalty kicks," Budzisch said. "Me and the seniors have to push these guys to get better every day and become part of this team."



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