Titans shut out Wildcats in BNC tilt

News Photo by James Andersen Traverse City West keeper David Downing (00) makes a save on an Alpena corner kick during a Big North Conference soccer game on Tuesday at Wildcat Stadium.

The Alpena boys soccer team played with plenty of effort on Tuesday, but the Wildcats were kept off the scoreboard during a 4-0 loss to Traverse City West at Wildcat Stadium.

Nate Lake, Mitch Hebblewhite both scored for the Titans and Dominic Mucarla added another goal on a penalty kick for the Titans, who led 2-0 at halftime and kept Alpena keeper Lawson Labean busy most of the afternoon.

“Our effort was good,” Alpena coach Tim Storch said. “My boys played hard to the end and it was literally, probably more realistically a 2-0 game. Compared to the first time we played them when it was 5-0, I thought we played hard and played well. To beat that team, we’re going to need everyone playing their best game.”

Alpena’s offensive chances were limited in the first half as the Wildcats struggled to gain separation from West. Alpena’s prospects improved a little in the second half, but still it came up empty-handed.

With 9:34 left, Grant Botha had a chance to shoot on West keeper David Downing, but shot too early allowing Downing to make the save. Less than a minute later, Caleb Burger missed a shot to the left of the net.

“”In the second half we did generate some attacking chances,” Storch said. “We see we can attack them, it’s just a matter of finishing and clean up the little mistakes we’re still making.”

One of Alpena’s best chances came with 6:30 left in the first half when Aidan Day banged a shot off the post. Craig Tagliareni attempted to score on the rebound, but missed a chance on a header.

West asserted itself early, nearly scoring in the game’s first two minutes when the ball slipped through Labean’s fingers. Labean was able to recover and kick the ball away.

The Titans took a 1-0 lead with 27:56 left in the first half when Lake sent a shot to the far left post, past the outstretched arms of Labean. West struck again with 16:13 left when Hebblewhite slipped a shot by Labean.

“Their first goal was a great goal and the penalty kick was very well deserved. Lawson, I think he’d want back those two goals he gave up,” Storch said. “Lawson has been outstanding all year and he’s certainly deserving of a night where a couple get by him he normally would get.”

Alpena (9-7-1) got a solid scoring chance early in the first half after being awarded a free kick in close with 26:30 left. The Wildcats couldn’t convert on the chance.

Alpena had another chance with 28 minutes left in the game as Chandler Lantz battled in front of the net. Lantz collided with Downing as they attempted to both made a play on the ball and Lantz went down with an injury on the play.

Murcala converted a penalty kick with 11:42 left to put the Titans ahead by three and West scored again with 2:30 left when the ball slipped just under Labean’s hands.

Alpena plays at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Traverse City Central.

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