The Alpena boys soccer team held conference rival Cadillac scoreless for the first half of the last regular season game on Thursday, but came up short in a 2-0 loss.
In spite of his team's loss, Alpena coach Tim Storch was feeling positive at the game's end.
"We've improved immensely and I'm tremendously proud of the guys for the effort they gave. We got two starters home sick, I'm sick, and we got players running on injuries. But, they went out and played really well," Storch said.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Cadillac’s Ryan Pendrick (9) heads the ball as Alpena’s Kyle Supiran (20) moves in for the steal while Evan Letourneau (14) fights for position against Evan Lee (3).
Cadillac's first goal came 19 minutes into the second half. The Vikings had a free kick that resulted in a lot of confusion at the net. Alpena keeper Gray Martin blocked a header that rebounded off an Alpena defender and into the goal.
The Vikings' second goal came with 8:35 left to play in the game. A corner kick from Noah Scott set up a head shot from Ben Farley that slipped past Martin.
"Both goals came off of headers. That's a part of our game that we're trying to get better at," Storch said.
Beyond these lapses, the Wildcats (8-11-1) held off the Vikings' attack and created many of their own chances.
The Wildcats' first big scoring chance came on a breakaway by forward Evan Letourneau about 12 minutes into the first half. He drove towards the net with only one defender between him and the net, but the play was successfully broken up.
Giulio Fantasia had a shot at about 14 minutes, but that shot fell into the gloves of keeper Noah Thiebaut.
Alpena had another chance about a minute later on another Letourneau breakaway. This time, Letourneau had the chance to take the shot, but Thiebaut was able to snatch it away.
The Wildcats had three more solid scoring chances in the game. Letourneau had another scoring opportunity near the net off a free kick by Zach Kendziorski. Cadillac's defenders were unable to get the ball and Letourneau fired wide.
Kendziorski had his own chance with about 11 minutes left. The Wildcats were parked in front of the goal and Kendziorski let go with a header that was blocked by Thiebaut.
Although several of Storch's normal go-to guys were out of the game, the younger players on the bench rose to the occasion in Storch's opinion.
"I started three freshmen, three sophomore with two juniors. Only three seniors started. Those young kids really came into their own tonight and did a heck of a job filling in where they were needed," Storch said.
The Alpena junior varsity team picked up a 3-2 win against Cadillac. The first goal was scored by Aaron Diamond with a Mike Ross assist. Nick Poli scored the second goal with a Ross assist while August Antoni scored an unassisted third goal.
Alpena begins district play in Traverse City on Monday.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.