Thursday's soccer game will go into the books as a loss for the Alpena girls soccer team.
But given the fact that the Wildcats were playing their third game in three days and given how competitive they played against Petoskey, it gave Alpena head coach Tim Storch a lot to be happy about.
The Northmen topped Alpena 5-1 at Wildcat Stadium, getting goals from four different players including two from Liz Fraser.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Katie Brownell (20) fights for the ball with Petoskey’s Emily Eberhart (7) during a girls soccer game Thursday at Alpena High School.
Alpena trailed just 2-1 at the half, but a quick goal by the Northmen to begin the second half, swung the momentum in Petoskey's favor over the final 40 minutes.
"Petoskey arguably may be the best team in the league. They've had a lot success and their program has been reknowned for a number of years," Storch said. "We played them dead even for 39 minutes plus in the first half."
The Northmen controlled play in the opening minutes of the game and needed less than two minutes to get on the board after Hayley Fettig scored on a shot in front from the left.
Alpena (2-4) netted the equalizer midway through the period after Natalie Nowakowski took a pass from Kaitlynn Kowalski and buried a shot past Petoskey keeper Kelsey Ance.
Petoskey took the lead for good in the final minute of the first half. With traffic in front of the net, Alpena keeper Emma Strong appeared to have corralled the ball, but Fraser was able to slip it through for a goal with 58 seconds left.
Strong had a good performance in net for the Wildcats, despite the loss, stopping several shots including a couple from point blank range.
"Emma's going to be a great goalkeeper. She's only a sophomore," Storch said. "She's raw and she's learning the position better and better."
Less than two minutes into the second half, Petoskey struck again after the Wildcats' defense had trouble clearing the ball out and Maire Carmody put a shot past Strong in the left corner.
Crisp passes and speed gave Petoskey many good chances in the second half, but Strong was able to turn away the majority of the shots.
Gabbi VandenBrink put Petoskey ahead 4-1 early in the second half, taking a pass from Emily Eberhart to score.
The Wildcats had a good scoring chance with 17 minutes left after Ance came out of the net to play the ball. Alpena was able to slip the ball past her and had a wide-open net, but couldn't convert on the chance.
"We had some really good chances. We hit the crossbar. We had a lot of dangerous free kicks. We had some really nice combinations. We had some empty nets," Storch said.
Fraser tallied her second goal of the night with less than 12 minutes to play.
The Wildcats went 1-2 in their three games this week, picking up a win against Tawas on Wednesday and losing to Cadillac on Tuesday. Still, Storch was very pleased with his team's energy level at the end of a long week.
"There's a lot to be optimistic about and I'm proud of the girls, especially given the fact this is our third game in three days," Storch said. "It would have been easy for them to phone it in, say 'Listen this is too tough.' This is a team that mercied us last year."