The Alpena girls soccer team has made some strides early in their first season under coach Tim Storch.
Now Storch would like to see them take the next step and turn those improvements into wins.
The Wildcats couldn't make the most of the few chances they had Tuesday against Traverse City West and dropped a Big North Conference game to the Titans 3-0 at Wildcat Stadium.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Stephanie Dziesinski (7) battles a Traverse City West player for the ball during the first half of a soccer game Tuesday at Alpena High School.
From the outset, the Titans held the offensive advantage, consistently testing Alpena keeper Emma Strong who made at least a dozen saves over the course of the game to keep West from blowing the game open.
"The effort was there. We didn't generate a ton of chances, but we did generate some and their keeper made a really, really nice save at the end," Storch said. "We're cutting margins but the next step is to stop cutting margins and start getting some results, whether they be ties or victories."
West hit the crossbar with a shot ten minutes into the game and finally connected on a chance a few minutes later when Jessica Kalbfleisch scored. Kalbfleisch got a pass in the middle and put a rolling shot past Strong on the left side.
Mikenna Ray put the Titans up by a pair of goals later in the half, booting a shot from about 35 yards out that took a bounce and got past Strong.
Alpena's first real chance on West keeper Savanna Wojtanowski came with seven minutes left in the first half when Katie Brownell put a shot toward the net with a free kick and Emily Duncan booted a shot high over the net.
The Titans didn't waste time in the second half and went up 3-0 just three minutes into the period. Katie Placek took the ball from just past midfield and marched past several Alpena defenders untouched to score.
The goal put the Wildcats even further in a hole they couldn't get out of despite some chances later in the half.
"The next step in our development is to stop giving up bad goals," Storch said. "The first one they got because we let them make an interior run on our outside back. The second one they got a long shot from probably 35 yards out and that we can't give up. The third one they got, we had four girls around her and it looked like nobody was taking her and they just kind of let her go in and literally walked it in on a breakaway."
Despite battling some fatigue late in the game, the Wildcats finally got some shots on net late in the period including several from Kaitlynn Kowalski. With 10 minutes left, Kowalski missed a shot up close and then with three minutes left, Kowalski just missed on a shot after a pass from Alex Przewozniak.
"We're not fit where we need to be and that's not going to come in year one with me, that's going to take time," Storch said. "To become a fit soccer team, we're going to have to become a program that spends more time offseason not just playing soccer but training."
Strong came up with one last big save, stopping Placek on a penalty kick with 11 seconds left.
The Wildcats will travel to Traverse City Central on Thursday, looking to snap a losing streak that has now spanned several games.