News Sports Editor
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Willie Santos Perez, left, turns upfield with the ball away from Petoskey’s Logan Bickel (1) and Austin Redes during a soccer game on Thursday at Wildcat Stadium.
The Alpena soccer team, came up just short on Thursday.
Ben Swartzfischer's goal at the 16:36 mark of the first half proved to be enough for Petoskey to beat the Wildcats 1-0 in a Big North Conference game at Wildcat Stadium.
After struggling with positioning in the first half, Alpena (4-7-1, 2-5 Big North) had a handful of quality scoring chances in the second half, but couldn't drive any of them home.
"I couldn't be more proud of my guys. We lost to these guys by seven goals the first time and we played and this time we did a great job," Alpena coach Tim Storch said. "We needed a little bit of luck because we had some great chances there in the second half, one went off the bar, another one the keeper made a great save on."
With 23 minutes left in the game, Alpena narrowly missed on a scoring chance. A half minute later, the Wildcats missed another opportunity. A header looked destined for the back of the net, but Petoskey's Logan Bickel cleared the ball away at the last second.
The Wildcats missed an opportunity off a corner kick with 11 minutes left and came up short on one final chance with a minute and a half to play.
Petoskey, the Division 2 runner-up last season, controlled play for much of the first half and nearly scored six minutes in when Ben Godfrey cut inside an Alpena defender and missed a shot wide to the left.
"We can compete, we've just got to eliminate the mistakes, play consistently and not put our heads down when we make mistakes," Storch said.
Swartzfischer connected for the only goal of the game about a minute later.
Willie Santos Perez got some field to work with later in the first half for Alpena, but couldn't find enough space to be get clean shots at Petoskey keeper Nathaniel Reed.
Storch was proud of his team's performance, in light of the fact that the Northmen pounded Alpena 7-1 in the Wildcats' Big North opener last month.
"This is by far our best performance against a high quality team," Storch said. "You're never happy to lose, but when you play your heart out and you lose and you're competitive and you lose to a quality team, there's nothing to complain about."
Alpena hosts Traverse City West on Tuesday.
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.