Monday's game will go into the books as another loss for the Alpena High girls soccer team.
But even in defeat, there were a lot of positives the Wildcats could take away from a 6-1 loss to Gaylord at Wildcat Stadium.
"I'm as pleased as you can be when you lose by five goals," Alpena coach Tim Storch said. "I thought we were way more competitive than the score may have indicated. I thought we played well in spurts."
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Hannah Fitch (left) battles Gaylord’s Maddi Hamilla for the ball during the first half of a girls soccer game on Monday at Alpena High School.
Alpena (1-5, 1-4 Big North) played much better than in last Friday's loss to Cheboygan, but Gaylord (4-1-3, 4-1-1 Big North), who's fighting for a spot atop the Big North Conference standings, was faster, better tactically and forced the Wildcats to make mistakes which they then capitalized on.
Maddi Hamilla and Brandi Wagner led Gaylord with two goals each.
Tatiana Burcar had Alpena's only goal, scoring with 5:52 left after she booted a ball left footed to the left post on a kick from just outside the 18-yard box.
Storch praised many of his players after the game, noting the strong play and improvement of defenders Chloe Ferguson, Megan Martin, Annaeliese Mathia and Maya Ingle.
Gaylord took a 4-0 lead into the half and stayed in Alpena's zone for the better part of the second half.
"We just made mistakes, catastrophic mistakes and unfortunately we made six of them," Storch said. "Catastrophic mistakes result in goals, regular mistakes can be hidden, but when they're catastrophic you're usually picking the ball out of the back of the net."
Missy Hartmann gave the Blue Devils a 5-0 with 24:36 left after Alpena keeper Carley Hoeksema leapt to make a save and missed the ball.
Hamilla scored her second goal of the game with 22:38 left after she stepped in front of an Alpena defender, took a pass from a teammate in close and slid the ball past Hoeksema, giving Gaylord a 6-0 lead.
Hamilla got a breakaway chance seven minutes into the game, but was tripped and awarded a penalty kick. She converted the chance after she beat Hoeksema in the bottom left corner. putting Gaylord up 1-0.
Wagner sent a shot over Hoeksema's head to the upper right corner of the net with 20:25 left in the first half to give Gaylord a two-goal cushion.
Wagner added another goal with 45 seconds left and sandwiched between her two scores, Brooke Stier scored with 8:13 left.
Alpena will get another solid test tonight when it plays in Traverse City against Traverse City Central. The Trojans are just head of Alpena in the conference standings and Storch is hoping the Wildcats can take a major step forward.
"I want to see how we respond to that. Do we go at them and say 'Alright this is a team that's in our realm?' or do we get panic stricken in front of their name and not play to the level we're capable of against them?"
James Andersen can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.