Tough beginnings

As is typical of season openers, there’s always an equal amount of positives and negatives to take away.

This was especially true of the Alpena boys soccer team on Saturday during the Sunrise Side Soccer Challenge Cup: the Wildcats played well for stretches, but were undone by inconsistent play, especially in the second half. Alpena won its first game, but dropped its next two.

“I thought we played well in spurts. Our ball possession was good, but our speed of play needs to improve. We did way too much dribbling,” Alpena head coach Tim Storch said.

Troy Athens won the inaugural tournament, defeating Midland 2-0. Midland Dow beat Tawas 5-0 in the consolation championship. Storch said he got good feedback from the schools who participated and already has teams interested in coming next year.

After coaching at Athens for 30 years, Storch wasn’t surprised the Red Hawks fared so well.

“I’m not surprised. The seniors that are at Troy Athens were freshmen when I was there so I had a really good knowledge of their playing ability. They’re a strong team,” he said.

Alpena won the opening game of the tournament, topping Tawas 2-1. Peter Guest put the Wildcats on the board less than six minutes into the game, scoring off a corner kick.

The Wildcats added another goal just 1:10 into the second half after Mitch Mead redirected a corner kick from Zach Kendziorski past Tawas keeper Tim Janis.

Tawas answered back just 16 seconds later as Kyle Costigan slipped through Alpena’s defense and sent a shot past keeper Gray Martin.

Both teams had several close calls the rest of the way including a dead-on chance by Tawas that Martin stopped with 15 seconds to play.

In the second round, Alpena lost to Midland 4-1 despite a scoreless game at the half. Guest’s second goal of the day was the only offense Alpena could muster.

The Wildcats lost 3-2 to Walled Lake Central in the third round after the Vikings scored a goal on an Alpena mistake in the last three minutes. Giulio Fantasia and TJ Thao each scored for Alpena.

One area the Wildcats are hoping to shore up before they begin Big North Conference play tomorrow is defense.

“I really felt all eight were bad goals. We really have to shore up that end of the ball,” Storch said. “We can compete with those people (conference opponents) if we play well.”

Alpena will play at 5 p.m. tomorrow at Petoskey.

James Andersen can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.