In the early part of the season, there's little doubt the Alpena boys soccer team is playing hard and playing well.
Now the Wildcats just need some wins to validate their efforts.
Traverse City West became the latest team to deny the Wildcats a victory, defeating Alpena 3-0 on Thursday afternoon at Wildcat Stadium.
News Photo by James Andersen
Alpena’s Tyler Griffin, right, battles for control of the ball with Traverse City West’s Scott Wesenberg during a boys soccer game on Thursday at Wildcat Stadium.
The Wildcats (0-5, 0-2 Big North) played to a stalemate for nearly the entire first half, despite being outshot by the Titans 8-2.
"It was an outstanding effort. We were missing a few key players, but my young boys they were very, very competitive and we showed some great possessional play," Alpena coach Tim Storch said. "I thought our style of play was excellent."
Cameron Sipple broke stalemate with 5:34 left in the first half when he scored on a penalty kick to the lower right corner of the net.
The Titans got additional goals from Evan Cramer with 22:42 left in the game and Dalton Michael with 21:30 left.
Through five games, Alpena has shown improvement and has been in contention at halftime in every contest. The difference however is the Wildcats' opponents have responded and been able to get their offense going. Alpena two goals in five games.
Still, Storch had more than enough reason to be impressed with the Wildcats' efforts again the Titans. After playing nearly 35 minutes of neck-and-neck soccer with Petoskey on Tuesday, the Wildcats went nearly 60 minutes before two quick goals from West put the game out of reach.
Alpena keeper Cameron Rubio had a solid game, making nearly a dozen saves before leaving late in the second half. His replacement, Kevin Rogers had a solid game as well and made a handful of saves including one on Sipple with eight minutes left on a direct kick.
"I think I've got three developing goaltenders (Rubio, Rogers and Levi Goebel) and hopefully that's a strength for us this season," Storch said.
West tested Rubio early, forcing him to make several saves with the first 10 minutes of play. A shot by Donovan Michael 14 minutes into the game just missed the net and he was stopped again by Rubio a few minutes later. Early in the second half, Dalton Michael raced up the right sideline untouched and fired a shot that Rubio got both hands on for the save.
One of Alpena's best chances came with eight minutes left in the first half on a corner kick, but the Wildcats couldn't get a clear shot before the ball was kicked away.
Alpena returns to action on Tuesday against Traverse City Central on the road.
James Andersen can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.