As season openers go, the Alpena boys soccer team saw a few positive signs on Friday, but also saw a quite a bit of room for improvement.
The Wildcats fell behind in the first half and had to play catch up the rest of the way, dropping their 2012 season opener to Midland 3-1 at Wildcat Stadium.
From the outset, Midland dictated the pace of the game and wasted little time getting on the board after Luke Ewbank buried a shot in the left corner of the net less than six minutes into the game.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Sawyer Hein (6) kicks the ball toward Midland keeper Ryan Sugnet during the first half of a soccer game on Friday at Wildcat Stadium. The Chemics topped Alpena 3-1 in Alpena’s season opener.
Alpena (0-1) picked up its level of play toward the end of the first half and did a good job keeping up with Midland into the second half, but couldn't dig itself out of the early hole.
"The first 30, 35 minutes were brutal. We weren't very tough, we weren't very physical. You can't play a quality program like Midland and give up three goals with passive play the way we did," Alpena coach Tim Storch said. "From that point on, we got the one goal back and played dead even the rest of the way. We had some chances, but we're not good enough-nobody's good enough-to dig a hole three goals down and then decide they're going to play with intensity."
The Chemics followed up with first-half strikes from Charles Wakeman at the midway point and Jake Rajewski less than two minutes after that to build a 3-0 lead with 17 minutes to play in the opening half.
Evan Frank put Alpena on the board with just over ten minutes to play in the first half, keeping the ball in the offensive zone after an Alpena free kick and booting it past Midland keeper Ryan Sugnet to pull within two, 3-1.
Midland kept Alpena keepers Zach Kendziorski and Peter Guest busy in the second half, but the Wildcats' netminders came up with several close range stops to keep the Chemics from breaking the game open.
On offense, Alpena had a few second-half chances, but had trouble sustaining attacks, something that Storch attributed partly to fact it was the first game of the year and partly because Alpena was missing a few of its key players, notably Jon Fitch and Willie Santos, who only played a short time on Friday.
"The second half, I thought everybody picked up their intensity. It would've been nice to see what would've happened had we come to the field with that same sort of preparation and intensity from the opening whistle rather than at the start of the second half," Storch said.
Alpena returns to action Tuesday at Tawas.