For large chunks of time on Saturday, the Alpena girls soccer team played well and showed it could hang with some of the state's top teams.
So the Wildcats had a lot of positives to take away from the inaugural Sunrise Side Soccer Challenge Cup at Wildcat Stadium, even if the end result wasn't always good.
Alpena took third place in the tournament, finishing with a 1-2 record after an opening-round 1-0 win over Boyne City and subsequent losses to Marquette (4-0) and Clarkston (3-0).
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Taylor Kieliszewski (17) tries to dribble away from Boyne City’s Erin Baker during the opening game of the Sunrise Side Soccer Challenge Cup on Saturday at Wildcat Stadium. Kieliszewski assisted on a goal by Morgan Allen as Alpena won the contest 1-0.
"Overall it was tremendously beneficial for our girls to see that level of competition and experience the format of a tournament," Alpena coach Tim Storch said.
The Redmen won the tournament with a perfect 3-0 record. Clarkston went 2-1 and Boyne City went 0-3.
Alpena (3-9-1) entered halftime with a chance to win in all three of its games. The Wildcats played to 0-0 halftime ties twice and trailed 1-0 in other game, but only scored one goal on the day.
Sunrise Side Soccer Challenge Cup Results
Alpena 1, Boyne City 0
Marquette 2, Clarkston 0
Marquette 4, Alpena 0
Clarkston 4, Boyne City 0
Marquette 7, Boyne City 0
Clarkston 3, Alpena 0
The Wildcats were tied 0-0 with Clarkston in their final game with 10 minutes to play before the Wolves tallied three goals to run away with the contest.
In their opener, the Wildcats attacked the Ramblers early and Hannah Fitch missed a shot wide to the right six minutes into the game.
Taylor Kieliszewski came up just short on a shot after a corner kick by teammate Tatiana Burcar 12 minutes in, but the team two teams played to a scoreless tie at halftime.
Alpena finally broke the stalemate with 21 minutes to play when Morgan Allen scored after firing a shot on net that a Boyne City defender and keeper Mallory Karaszewski couldn't deflect away. Kieliszewski assisted on Allen's score.
Carley Hoeksema earned her first shutout of the season in the victory.
Allen's goal proved to be the only time Alpena found the back of the net during the tournament and moved her into a tie with Burcar for the team lead in goals with five.
"No question, Morgan leads our team. As a sophomore to be able to that with very little soccer experience, as she grows she'll become an even better player," Storch said.
Burcar and Megan Martin were named to the all-tournament team.
Alpena's second round game against Marquette saw one of the Wildcats' better efforts all season, but still Alpena was kept scoreless.
Despite playing back-to-back games-Marquette had previously beaten Clarkston-the Redmen looked no worse for the wear against the Wildcats. Marquette had several shots on net against Hoeksema's, but Alpena was able to force the Redmen to take shots from tough angles.
Marquette took a 1-0 lead into halftime after Carleigh Hiller scored with 18 minutes. Hiller fired a shot into the upper left corner of net, just past Hoeksema's outstretched hands.
Alpena had a few chances late in the half, but couldn't convert. Allen came up short trying to convert a corner kick with eight minutes left and a shot from Fitch in the closing seconds sent Redmen keeper Molly Gaudreau sprawling to make a save.
Once the second half began, Marquette took the game over and Alpena seemed to tire in the final 30 minutes.
"I'm encouraged that for large parts of the day we played very well," Storch said. "Marquette would definitely be in the top two or three teams in the Big North. To play them as well as we did (was good), but as the game worn on, we wore down physically and mentally."
The Redmen took a 2-0 lead a minute and a half into the second half when Deni Peterson scored. Hoeksema stopped a shot on goal, but couldn't corral the rebound and Peterson booted it past here.
Marquette added two more goals later in the half after Kayce Mullett and Casey Durand scored 33 seconds apart. Mullett send a high arching shot into the upper right corner of the net with 13:07 left and Durand netted a goal with 12:34 left, sending a shot over Hoeksema's hands.
Alpena will host Cadillac on Tuesday during Senior Night at 7 p.m. and will play at Oscoda on Wednesday and at Petoskey on Thursday.
James Andersen can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.