Losing a soccer game 1-0 may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but the Alpena girls soccer team was mercied 9-1 by Cadillac the last time it played.
It's 1-0 loss against Petoskey on Tuesday showcased much more consistent team-oriented play.
"Must better effort on our part. We obviously tweaked some things offensively and that allowed us to stay in the game," Alpena coach Tim Storch said.
News Photo by Eric Benac
Alpena’s Kristen Schepke (21) kicks the ball past Petoskey defender Mackenzie DuBeau in a home game on Tuesday. Alpena fell 1-0.
Players on both teams had to contend with temperatures 40 degrees or lower and a heavy, steady wind. Solid shots from both teams were often blown uselessly away from the goal and far out of bounds.
The only goal of the game came at 29:29 in the second half. A Petoskey player took a shot on the goal that Alpena goalie Carly Hoeksema easily blocked with a diving save.
However, the ball bounced away from Hoeksema's hands and to the boot of Petoskey's Brooke Redes. Hoeksema tried to adjust, but Redes' shot was too quick and Alpena fell behind 1-0.
It was the only serious lapse in Alpena's (1-2) offensive and defensive efforts, but one that cost them game.
The first half saw aggressive offense and defense from both Alpena and Petoskey. The Northmen (1-2) applied more consistent offensive pressure, but Alpena was effective in breaking up its offensive opportunities.
Hoeksema was consistently on the ball for Alpena in the first half, picking up three big saves and aggressively attacking the ball when needed.
However, a soccer team needs more than a good goalie to succeed. Alpena's defense was supported by players like Emily Code, Tatiana Burcar and Megan Martin.
These players, along with many others, continually cut off Petotskey's path to the goal, keeping the game neck-and-neck throughout the first half.
"A lot of players played well tonight. I thought Lexi Rushing looked good, I thought Morgan Allen played well at the top and Megan Martin did a good job controlling things," Storch said. "A lot of girls stepped up. We got six sophomores that are new to varsity, are new to soccer even, and I was really proud of their efforts."
Alpena's offense failed to generate serious scoring chances. Its best scoring chance came at 8:56 in the first half, when Allen broke free of Petoskey's defenders for a breakaway shot.
"We had that one breakaway chance in the first half that we missed and I thought we had some good pressure. Really, their good quality scoring chance they scored on while we didn't," Storch said.
The Wildcats also had several scoring chances in the second half, with players like Rushing and Hannah Fitch getting shots off.
Alpena tried to force the tie by continually pushing the ball deep into Northmen territory in the last three minutes of the game.
"I was really proud of our effort. It was a quality performance for us," Storch said.
Alpena hosts Traverse City West Thursday at 7 p.m.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.