TAWAS-Wednesday's game will go down as a loss for the Alcona soccer team.
But it's a loss the Tigers hope will help them when it matters the most.
Jacob Carroll and Jared Jungquist each scored twice and Tawas rolled past Alcona to a 7-1 win, scoring four unanswered goals in the second half.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alcona’s Nick Lamantia, left, attempts to wrestle the ball away from Tawas’ Dylan Decker during a soccer game on Wednesday at Tawas High School.
From the outset, the Braves played with a level of physicality that the Tigers (6-6) struggled at times to match and used their speed and strength to boot shots at the net all night.
"It was very good for us. That's the stuff we need to learn. You learn that when you play bigger schools and that's what Tawas is, bigger than us," Alcona coach Tim Munro said. "I thought our kids did really well, played well defensively."
Carroll fired a shot at Alcona keeper Chase Matthews just 15 seconds into the game, giving Matthews a preview of what he was in for from Tawas' defense. Carroll found the back of the net a short time later, giving Tawas a 1-0 lead with 1:39 gone from the game.
Alcona's Trenton LaVergne knotted the game at the 10:10 mark, sending a shot to the far right corner of the net past Tawas keeper Rudy Simpson.
It was as close as the Tigers would come to catching the Braves.
Tawas took the lead for good a minute after LaVergne's tally when Samuel Loga sent a shot just to the left of Matthews to put Tawas ahead 2-1. Jungquist scored the first of two goals at the 15:35 mark when he corralled a rebound off a corner kick and sent a tight angle shot just inside the upper right corner of the net.
Matthews, who finished with 17 saves, made several stops down the stretch in the first half to keep the Braves from blowing the game open.
Of the few scoring chances Alcona got, the Tigers made sure to land them on net. LaVergne barely missed a shot with 16:45 left in the half trying to redirect a corner kick from Jason Steiner. The Steiner-LaVergne connection missed again in the opening minutes of the second half.
Alcona trailed 3-1 at the half, but the Braves quickly took away whatever hopes the Tigers had of getting back into the game in the second half. Tawas used its strength to knock Alcona off the ball numerous times and always seemed to have players in the right spots to move the ball upfield.
Carroll scored his second goal 10 minutes into the period after Matthews dived and missed a save attempt. Dylan Decker gave Tawas a 5-1 lead at the halfway point of the half, scoring much the same way Carroll had.
Tawas didn't let up near the end, netting two goals in the final eight minutes. Timothy Janis scored on a running header with 7:20 left and Jungquist added his second goal with 4:30 remaining.
The loss knocked Alcona back to .500 for the season, but as Munro pointed out, all of the Tigers' losses have come at the hands of bigger schools. Alcona beefed up its nonconference schedule with tough games, in hopes that it pays off when the playoffs begin.
"These kids they're learning every day. I played all the kids again and we've got four ninth graders out there that are going to be good down the road," Munro said. "I thought the kids did well. They kept their heads up and we were in it. It was only 3-1 at half and we had some chances."
Alcona hosts Oscoda at 5 p.m. on Monday.
James Andersen can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.