The Alpena boys soccer team (3-5-1, 1-3 Big North) was looking for its first Big North win on Tuesday against Ogemaw Heights.
The Wildcats got it, shutting out the Falcons 4-0 in a game that saw the Wildcats score three goals in the second half.
"We clearly started playing well after the first water break of the game. Our second half was dominated by strong play from players like Willie Santos Perez. He was dangerous all game on offense and defense, like a snake in a pit. Younger players like Mitch Day and Evan Letourneau really came into their own tonight," Alpena coach Tim Storch said.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Alpena midfielder Alec LeTourneau (13) gets into position for a steal against Ogemaw Heights Andrew Waack (18) while their teammates watch. Alpena beat the Falcons in a 4-0 shutout, to pick up its first Big North Conference win.
A mid-September heat wave forced mandatory water breaks every 20 minutes. Temperatures spiked over 90 degrees throughout the game.
Nearly all of Alpena's serious offense was in an eight minute window in the second half.
Peter Guest scored the first goal of the second half at the 29:33 mark. It was an unassisted shot from about 20 yards away. It sailed over the heads of Falcon defenders and just past the hands of Falcons goalie Grant Paulson.
Santos Perez scored his team's third goal off a header with about 26:30 left in the half. Santos Perez had many scoring chances throughout the game, including a close chance with 8:40 left in the half. Here, Perez came up against Paulson, out-juked him and had an open net opportunity. Perez's shot went wide, missing the goal and putting the ball back in Falcon possession.
Giulio Fantasia scored Alpena's fourth and final goal off a header with 21:55 left in the half.
"Athletics is contagious, both good and bad. A few mistakes can pile up into a big loss, while a goal or two can balloon into a huge win. Once they scored tonight, the boys got a taste for it and they didn't want to stop," Storch said.
Before the water break in the first half, the game was more evenly matched. Ogemaw's Dillon Zettel knocked three shots towards Alpena goalie Gray Martin in the first five minutes of the game. Santos Perez had a few breakaway chances and three close shots, but Alpena remained scoreless for most of the first half.
Asger Nissen booted in a 20 yard goal with about seven minutes left in the first half, to give Alpena a lead it never lost. Nissen had a second chance to score 10 seconds into the second half, but Paulson slapped it away.
Storch hopes that his team's first conference win can help inspire it to improve its play against face tougher conference opponents in the future.
"Last year, we finished fourth in the conference, behind Petoskey and the Traverse City teams. That's where we hope to get this year. Eventually, we want to be at the top of the Big North. We're not there yet, but we can use each game to work up to the next level. Once we hit the next level, we can keep building till we're at the top," Storch said.
Alpena travels to Gaylord on Thursday.
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