Alpena boys soccer coach Tim Storch didn't mince words after his team's 4-0 loss against Traverse City West on Tuesday.
The Wildcats got outworked and simply lost to a good team.
"I've said this before, but it's a case where they're bigger, faster, stronger athletes as well as being better soccer players," Storch said. "That's a tough hill to climb. Until we get bigger, faster, stronger athletes that are more seasoned soccer players, this is going to be the norm."
Christien Geiger scored twice and the Titans' offense seemed to have its way all game with the Wildcats' overmatched defense.
Geiger gave West a 1-0 lead at the 18:53 mark of the first half and Jack Lhamon added a goal late in the half to send the game to halftime with the Titans ahead 2-0.
The Titans didn't wait long to get going offensively in the second half as Tyler Porter netted a goal just 41 seconds into the frame.
One bright spot for the Wildcats (4-8-1, 2-6 Big North) was the play of backup keeper Cameron Rubio, who relieved Gray Martin with just under 20 minutes to play. Rubio made several point blank stops in his time on the field, preventing West from breaking the game open even further.
"Rubio played well. It was 3-0, I put him in with just under 20 minutes to play. He's a very good shot stopper," Storch said. "It was nothing against Gray because Gray's been very, very strong for us and Rubio came in and made some great saves."
One of Alpena's best scoring chances came about 17 minutes into the second half. With traffic in front of net, several Alpena attackers got a foot on the ball, but none of them was able to get a clear shot at the net.
Geiger scored his second goal of the game with 6:08 left to play. Rubio made the initial stop on a shot, but on the rebound, Geiger got a foot on it and booted a shot into a wide-open net.
Alpena is 0-3 this season in games against its two Traverse City rivals and Storch said he's still working to change his team's mentality against more well-equipped teams like the Titans.
"There still is a mentality that we lack and I think it's prevalent in all Alpena sports. I think they come in to a Traverse City game and it's almost like we're the sacrificial lambs," Storch said. "They come in and we don't play with any machoism."
Alpena returns to action on Thursday at Traverse City Central.
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.