Momentum clearly swayed in Alpena's favor in the second half of Friday's girls soccer game.
Not only did the Wildcats mount a ton of pressure on Cheboygan's goal, but they also netted the game-tying goal.
The Chiefs answered, however, and finished the game with two goals to come away with a 3-1 victory over the Wildcats at Wildcat Stadium.
News Photo by Chris Dobrowolski
Alpena’s Stephanie Dziesinski (7) dribbles the ball as Cheboygan’s Kylee Galer comes over to defend during Friday’s girls soccer game at Wildcat Stadium.
Cheboygan's Maraiah Rozek got the go-ahead score in the 65th minute and Sam Buhr added an insurance goal 11 minutes later to snatch a win that seemed to be within Alpena's grasp earlier in the half.
"In the second half good things were happening. We had to fight hard to get the equalizer, then they scored from 30 yards out and that was the backbreaker at that point," said Alpena coach Tim Storch.
The loss was a disappointing one for Storch and his team. After a less than stellar first half, Alpena responded with a much more intense second half, consistently mounting attacks that had the Chiefs' defense scrambling and back on their heels.
"We put Katie Brownell up front and that helped Kaitlyn Kowalski," said Storch, describing what the Wildcats did to generate more offensive chances in the second half. "We also moved Amanda Temple to defensive center mid and she gave us a lot of energy. Everybody else played much better, too. We played with more intensity and went to the ball harder."
Alpena was finally able to break through with a goal in the 55th minute when Alex Przewozniak turned the corner on her defender and dribbled along the goal line, then put a nice pass on the foot of Kowalski and Kowalski buried it past Cheboygan keeper Taylor Lopiccolo to knot the score at 1.
The Wildcats (1-2) continued to go on the offensive, but couldn't notch the goal to put them in front. Ten minutes later it was Cheboygan that scored, launching a shot over the head of Alpena keeper Emma Strong from outside the box. Cheboygan scored its first goal in the 28th minute on a similar shot, but from closer in as McKenzie Carroll launched a shot that just eluded the grasp of Strong.
Alpena's chances were few and far between early in the game, but Storch felt that was part of a lackluster first half showing by his squad.
"We had a poor first half," said Storch, whose team was coming off a 4-0 loss to Gaylord on Thursday. "We lacked energy and we didn't play with any urgency. We expected everything to come to us and that put us behind the eight-ball."
Strong, who along with her defensive mates played a key role to holding Gaylord down one night earlier, had several more big saves, but struggled with the two long shots that were lofted over her head. Cheboygan's third goal came when the Alpena defense failed to clear it out of its end.
"In the first half at times we were playing reactive soccer," Storch said. "To be a good team you have to be proactive and make proactive runs. That's what you saw in the second half."