A difficult ending

Wildcats shut out by TC Central in district opener

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Alpena’s Caleb Eaton (4) and Traverse City Central’s Tre Powis (7) battle for a loose ball during the first half of a district quarterfinal game on Tuesday at Wildcat Stadium.

In a season that was full of ups and downs, the Alpena soccer team saw its downward spiral toward the end of the season finish with a 2-0 loss against Traverse City Central in a district quarterfinal matchup on Tuesday at Wildcat Stadium.

Despite a strong effort for much of the night, Alpena was unable to capitalize on some of the opportunities they had and just couldn’t create enough scoring chances against a Trojan team that they had lost to twice in the regular season.

“It was a nice performance. We were tied with 25 minutes to go and I thought up until that point we had a lot of territorial play and maybe more than they did, but it’s the little things that hurt us tonight,” Alpena coach Tim Storch said. “It’s small things that separate winning from losing and we should have learned a lesson tonight that every possession and every touch is crucial. Traverse City is a good team and we knew coming in we had to play a lot better and I think we did, but obviously it’s a loss and we’re knocked out of the tournament.”

It was a defensive first half for both teams as there weren’t many scoring opportunities for either side. The Wildcats held their own early on and what few chances each team had, they were unable to find the back of the net as there were only a combined three shots on goal in the first half.

Traverse City’s first opportunity came with just over 10 minutes left in the opening half when they had a shot hit the post and bounce in front of the net which caused a lot of traffic, but eventually the Wildcats were able to clear the ball and send it down field.

Alpena had a chance in the final minutes of the half, but Trojans goalkeeper John Socks came up with a big saves and played strong in net all night.

“I told our guys that we had a good chance. We may not have been given a chance on paper coming in, but tonight we played better than we did the two previous times we played Traverse City, but we’re still not a team that can overcome mistakes,” Storch said. “We had to limit our mistakes and capitalize on their mistakes and they made some, but we just didn’t capitalize. We’re getting better, but there still may be a gap between our players in Alpena and there’s in Traverse City and that makes a difference, but our effort was great.”

The second half was a different story as the Trojans applied pressure throughout most of the half and opened the scoring with 25:02 left to play when Andrew Roberts took advantage of a defensive breakdown by Alpena and scored on a breakaway.

Traverse City took the one goal lead and didn’t look back as they continued to apply pressure and limit Alpena’s chances.

The Trojans took a two goal lead late to ice the game with 7:13 to play as Roberts found the back of the net on a loose ball off of a free kick for his second of the night and give Traverse City a comfortable two goal lead late and one they were able to hang on to.

The Wildcats finish the season with an overall record of 10-12-1.

“It was anybody’s game after the first half and you hate to say it’s the team that scores first that’s going to win, but obviously the team that scores first in that kind of game, you knew it was going to be crucial,” Storch said. “In some ways the season was better than expected because we graduated 10 seniors last year and seven of them were starters. We were really inexperienced in a couple key positions. It was in some ways better than expected and we got great performances all season long from several players. We are going to need to see some of that growth and experience step up next year.”