A hard loss to take

The Alpena boys soccer team learned a harsh lesson on Thursday: sometimes things just aren’t fair.

The Wildcats fell 1-0 to Traverse City Central during a Big North Conference game at Wildcat Stadium after the Trojans converted on a penalty kick with 21:55 to play.

“My boys played a tremendous game and deserved better,” Alpena coach Tim Storch said. “They got a harsh lesson about sports and life not always being fair.”

With 21:55 remaining, the Wildcats (11-8-1, 4-6-1 Big North) were whistled for a hand ball in the penalty box, awarding the Trojans an automatic penalty kick. Marshall Mast took the kick and put a ball in the lower right corner past Alpena keeper Levi Goebel for the game-winner.

“I saw a penalty kick given on an incidental hand ball where a player had no scoring opportunity and was unfairly rewarded,” Storch said of the play.

It was a frustrating ending for the Wildcats, who had plenty of scoring chances during a game filled with rain and sloppy conditions, but weren’t able to convert any of them. The last of those chances came in the waning seconds after a corner kick, but the Trojans managed to clear the ball away to preserve the win.

With 12 minutes left, Goebel, who was relieved by Kevin Rogers for the final 18 minutes, had a scoring chance, but Trojans keeper Elliott Stratton was a few steps ahead of him and made the save.

Both teams played to a scoreless tie in the first half, although Alpena appeared to score early on. Fifteen minutes into the game, Evan LeTourneau appeared to score after Stratton came out too far to play a ball, but the play was whistled offside and the game remained scoreless.

Goebel and Stratton traded big save after big save and Stratton was tested early in the second half, stopping separate chances by Tommy Hein within the first 20 minutes.

“We had several chances regardless of that (the hand ball) that didn’t go in,” Storch said.

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