Last Friday, en route to winning a Division 4 district title, the Alcona boys soccer team put the brakes on Burt Lake Northern Michigan Christian's Andrew Chatfield, limiting him to two goals.
If the Tigers hope to advance any further in the playoffs, they'll have to stop another prolific scorer tonight.
Alcona will face Hart in a Division 4 regional semifinal at 7 p.m. tonight in Suttons Bay. Alcona advanced to the regional after a 3-2 win over Burt Lake last Friday and Hart dominated Big Rapids Crossroads Academy in an 8-0 win.
The Alcona Boys Varsity Soccer team poses after beating Burt Lake Northern Christian Academy 3-2 to win a Division 4 district championship on Friday. The Tigers advance to a regional semifinal tonight in Suttons Bay.Pictured, left to right, are: back: coach Dave DuBuque, Trenton LaVergne, Ryan Shultz, Ryley Mancine, Ben DuBuque, Mitchell Havercroft, Morgan Stewart, Carson Jamieson, Jason Steiner, Nick Lamantia, Cody Collins, Jeffrey Schram and coach Tim Munro; middle: Isaac DuBuque, Schuyler Bates, Brandon Smigelski, Andy Cammack, Aaron Ritchie and Jared Steiner; front: Jordan McCoy
The Tigers (11-5) are looking to get back to the regional final for the first time since 2007, which was also held in Suttons Bay.
"It feels really good. We've come a long way and we beat Burt Lake fair and square," Alcona coach Tim Munro said. "The team played well defensively and Jared Steiner was the best player on the field."
Steiner had a hat trick in the district title game and has 15 goals and 21 assists on the year.
Alcona will need Steiner to come up with another big game against Hart (20-3), which won three district games by a combined 18-1 score and boasts an elite player in Marcos Moul.
The Pirates' senior forward has 55 goals and 21 assists on the year and has topped 40 goals in each of the past two seasons. Against Big Rapids, Moul found the back of net four times.
Samuel Hernandez has also been an important contributor for Hart, tallying 31 points (10-21) this season.
While Steiner, one of four Alcona seniors, has been the heart of Alcona's offense this year, Munro also pointed to improved play of sophomore Trenton LaVergne, who scored a hat trick in Alcona's district semifinal win over Harbor Springs.
To put the brakes on Moul, Alcona will rely on senior defender Jordan McCoy and senior keeper Aaron Ritchie. The duo limited Chatfield, a 60-goal scorer, to a pair of goals in the district final.
With the Pirates' high talent level, Munro is expecting a competitive game, but is proud of the season Alcona has had thus far. Alcona has had its best season since 2007 when the Tigers beat Harbor Light 1-0 in the regional semifinal and lost to Suttons Bay 2-0 in the regional final.
"There are only 16 teams left (in Division 4) and Alcona is one of them," Munro said. "I think we'll be competitive and hopefully we'll come out on top."
The winner of tonight's game will face either North Muskegon or Leland at 6 p.m. on Friday in the regional final.