Winning ugly is always better than losing ugly.
The Alpena soccer team was fortunate to be on the better half of the equation on Monday.
The Wildcats held a 2-0 lead over Tawas after one half of play, but had to fend off a second-half charge from the Braves to come away with a 2-1 win at Wildcat Stadium.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena forward Kaitlynn Kowalski, left, tries to move around a Tawas defender during a girls soccer game Monday at Wildcat Stadium.
Katie Brownell and Tatiana Burcar tallied goals for the Wildcats (6-9), who won back-to-back games for the second time this season.
Brownell put Alpena on the board early, netting a goal with less than six minutes gone in the first half, redirecting the ball off her body past Tawas keeper Tessa Schimdt for her sixth goal of the year. Kaitlynn Kowalski added an assist.
"It's always good to score in the beginning because it really brings up the team spirit and it keeps you fighting hard," Brownell said.
Scoring early in games, specifically in the first five minutes, is an area where Alpena coach Tim Storch has stressed importance to the Wildcats all season and he was pleased to see the early goal.
"I've preached all year about the five-minute rule: first five minutes of the game, last five minutes of the half, first five minutes of the second half, last five minutes of the game, Storch said. "If you're generally good in those spans, you're going to win and if you give up goals in those areas, you're going to lose. We've been on both ends of it, so it's something that we really want to focus upon and today obviously getting that first goal really helped out."
Burcar picked up her first goal of the season in the 15th minute. Off a corner kick from Brownell, both teams battled in front of the Tawas net for the ball. The ball found its way back to Brownell who centered the ball where Burcar was waiting to head it past Schmidt.
Though they led by two goals entering the second half, the Wildcats couldn't keep up their intensity and the Braves took advantage. In the opening minutes of the period, Alpena keeper Emma Strong was forced to come up with several big stops to keep Tawas off the board.
The Braves eventually found the back of the net nine minutes into the half, when Taylor Inman was able to put a shot past Strong.
"They came hard. We have to learn more to pick up the 50-50 balls," Brownell said. "They definitely are not afraid to beat you around a little bit, but that's girls soccer."
Both teams had a few scoring chances throughout the rest of the second half, but the Wildcats were able to hang on for their second win over Tawas this season.
Alpena will get back into Big North Conference play today against Petoskey and Storch is expecting a much better performance from his team than what he saw Monday.
"It was certainly not our best performance," Storch said. "I thought there was a lot of lethargy on our part at times, but you've got to give Tawas credit. They came in 12-5, so they've had a successful season, but we certainly didn't play with the same kind of energy and intensity that we played with last week."