Less than five minutes into the second half of Thursday's boys soccer game between Alpena and Alcona, Jake Kendziorski sent a corner kick toward teammate Aaron Mead, who banged a header off the left post, nearly resulting in a goal for the Wildcats.
Eight minutes later, the duo hooked up on the exact same play, only this time it worked.
Mead broke a scoreless tie 12 minutes into the second half and Kendziorski tallied two assists as the Wildcats beat the Tigers 2-0 at Wildcat Stadium.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Giulio Fantasia, right, battles Alcona’s Brandon Smigelski during the first half of a boys soccer game on Thursday at Wildcat Stadium.
After Alpena (6-6-2) missed several scoring opportunities in the opening minutes of the second half, Kendziorski launched the ball toward the net off a corner kick and Mead was there in front, putting the ball in on a header past Alcona keeper Aaron Ritchie, for his fifth goal of the season.
"Those two are tremendously key players for us," Alpena coach Tim Storch said of Kendziorski and Mead, his two captains. "They're tactic smart and they're probably the most experienced varsity players we've got."
Peter Guest added Alpena's second goal with just over 14 minutes left, blasting a shot from the right side past Ritchie with Kendziorski earning another assist.
Both sides played fairly equal in the first half and weren't able to convert on scoring chances they had. The Tigers' duo of Jared Steiner and Trent LaVergne did a nice job of getting to the net in the first half and nearly scored a few times, including a chance less than five minutes into the game.
Alcona coach Tim Munro said while his team may be young, they've played well this season and the experience of playing a team like Alpena twice a season is very helpful.
"It really helps us. It teaches them to be aggressive and Alpena is very aggressive," Munro said. "We're a young team, but they've been working hard and we've come a long way since the beginning of the season."
Sawyer Hein nearly had a goal for Alpena 13 minutes into the game when Ritchie fell as he made a save and nearly dropped the ball. Near the end of the half, Alpena was awarded a few free kicks and wasn't able to convert on those chances.
Storch gave credit to Alcona for managing the game well after Alpena beat Alcona 5-0 earlier this season. While he was pleased to see his team pull out the win in the second half, Storch said he's still looking for consistency from the Wildcats.
"I'd like to see us develop a more consistent style and I'd like to see us be able to play every game like we did against Traverse City Central, but an undefeated week of three games is an undefeated week and we're going to be happy about that," Storch said.
Munro and the Tigers are 8-3 on the year and will turn their focus back to Huron Shores Conference play where they're 3-1 thus far and aiming for a conference title.
"I thought our team played really well. We had some offensive opportunities, we just didn't mark up on their players, but I thought we played well," Munro said. "We're a very young team and we're still 8-3."
Alcona hosts Oscoda on Monday at 7 p.m. while Alpena hosts Ogemaw Heights on Tuesday at 7 p.m.