It had to have seemed like a sure thing for the Alpena High boys soccer team when it was up 3-0 with 10 minutes left against Gaylord on Tuesday.
However, Gaylord pulled off a stunning turn around, scoring three goals in five minutes and holding Alpena to a 3-3 tie at Wildcat Stadium.
Alpena head coach Tim Storch was not happy.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Alpena’s Bret Letourneau, left, tackles against Gaylord’s James Dunn during a boys soccer game at Wildcat Stadium on Tuesday. Alpena led 3-0 with ten minutes remaining, but Gaylord fought back to force a tie.
"Horrible results," he said, "simply horrible. Gaylord deserves a lot of credit for coming back like that."
The sting was made even more harsh by the fact that Alpena offensively dominated the first 70 minutes of the game. The Wildcats were bringing the ball into scoring territory regularly, but not always finishing their chances.
"We didn't finish on our shots," Storch said. "We brought the ball down over and over again but we simply weren't getting the shots off or getting the ball into the net as often as we should have."
Jon Fitch scored an early goal 13 minutes into the first half that went uncontested by Gaylord to give Alpena a 1-0 lead.
The first half saw Alpena on the offensive territory more than Gaylord, but Gaylord was able to clear it out often enough to avoid another score and Alpena went into halftime with a 1-0 lead.
Gaylord coach Ron Dale had many kinds words to say about his goal keeper, Cale Krist.
"Cale did an excellent job tonight, really great," Krist said. "He kept us in the game when we should have been done."
Storch echoed Krist's sentiment.
"They had tremendous goalkeeping tonight, tremendous. He gave them a chance to hang in there with brutal results for us," Storch said.
The second half was highlighted by two Alpena goals in the first 10 minutes.
Fitch scored his second goal of the night and Elliot Zarins scored Alpena's third goal.
The next 20 minutes seemed like business as usual, however the game turned around at 10:32 when Gaylord's Jacob Platko pulled away from the Alpena defenders and scored his team's first goal.
Gaylord seemed to come alive at this point, a fact that didn't escape Storch's notice.
"I saw a lack of heart coming from one team," he said, "and a lot of intensity and emotion from another team."
Forty five seconds later, Chris Stout scored Gaylord's second goal. This brought an edge to the game that had disappeared after Alpena's third goal.
The Wildcats' defensive game came back as Alpena struggled to get the ball into scoring position. Alpena only had four more shots at the goal after their third goal, three of which came in the 16th minute.
With 5:06 left in the game, Platko scored his second goal of the night to tie the contest.
As the last seconds of the game wound down, Gaylord jumped into the air in excitement, having turned its defeat around and holding its own against a hard hitting, dominant Alpena team.
Krist was extremely proud of his team.
"I'm so happy right now, I could do a backflip," he said with a laugh. "I couldn't be any prouder of my team. Everybody played so well, especially the midfield offense."
He credited his team's come from behind tie to clean playing.
"They did what they had to do. They came out, played clean, avoided mistakes and never gave up, not even when they were three goals down. Alpena is a very competitive, very hard team and they held their own and came back in a big way."
Storch found his team's goalkeeping to have contributed to the tie.
"Our goalkeeping just collapsed in the second half," he said. "Gaylord's goalkeeping stayed consistently great all night."
Alpena hosts Cadillac on Thursday.