When the Alpena High boys soccer team is firing on all cylinders, it gives coach Tim Storch a lot of reasons to be happy.
Such was the case on Tuesday as the Wildcats picked up their second straight win, a 6-2 victory over Ogemaw Heights at Wildcat Stadium, to get back over the .500 mark.
Sawyer Hein tallied a hat trick and four different players scored for Alpena (7-6-2), which built a 6-0 lead and put in a number of reserves in the second half to give them some quality playing time.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Sawyer Hein kicks the ball during the first half of a boys soccer game Tuesday at Wildcat Stadium. Hein scored a hat trick as the Wildcats defeated Ogemaw Heights 6-2.
"When I had my starters in, we were firing on all cylinders and we were up 6-0. It's one of those things, a decision a coach makes: keep the starters in and mercy a team?" Storch said. "I don't ever want to do that, plus we have a lot of guys on the team that haven't seen major minutes and it gave us a chance to give them 25-30 minutes of meaningful game time."
Alpena kept Falcons' keeper Grant Poulson busy all night, firing more than 20 shots at him and held a 3-0 lead at halftime.
Hein gave Alpena a 1-0 lead near the midway point of the first half, taking a pass and racing in on the left side to put in a shot.
Hein then set up Aaron Mead for a scoring chance a few minutes later, which Mead converted, but Hein was whistled offsides and the goal was disallowed.
The Wildcats bounced back from the call and Peter Guest put Alpena up by a pair with 13 minutes left in the half, sending a hard shot from the corner of the 18-yard box to the far left side of the net, where it got by a sprawling Paulson.
Evan Frank added a goal with 3:43 left in the half to put Alpena ahead by three goals headed into intermission.
Hein took over in the second half and scored just 1:15 into the period before completing his hat trick a few minutes later to bring his goal total up to 11 for the year.
Knowing what a dynamic player Hein is, Storch was pleased to see him take over on Tuesday.
"Sawyer's a guy that I've been trying to get to stay more toward his strengths because he's such a dynamic player in the penalty area," Storch said. "He can easily score goals or set people up and I think he had a real good night tonight. It makes us a more dangerous team."
The Wildcats brought their lead up to six near the midway point of the second half when Willie Santos scored. After Jon Fitch put a shot on net from the right, Santos buried the rebound up close from the left.
Alpena kept up the pressure the rest of the way, but put in several of its bench players, which allowed Ogemaw to net two goals in the final 11 minutes. Nick Drumm netted the first Falcons' goal with 11:04 left and Robert Connolly converted a penalty kick with 2:44 left.
The Wildcats are 2-2-1 in their last five games and Storch believes that if the Wildcats finish their final three regular seasons games strong, they may be able to pull out a second or third-place finish in the Big North Conference standings.
"We're playing pretty good soccer and especially when we got out 6-0 on them, we're knocking the ball around real well and we were dangerous from a lot of different positions with a lot of different people," Storch said. "I like how we're playing."
Alpena plays at Gaylord on Thursday.