Day nets four goals as ’Cats blank Blue Devils

News Photo by James Andersen Alpena's Noah Carstens (5) collides with Sault Ste. Marie keeper Andrew Kraus during the first half of a soccer game on Tuesday at Wildcat Stadium. Also pictured is Sault's Nathan McKinney (11).

When Aidan Day finds his mark, good things usually happen for the Alpena High boys soccer team.

The Alpena senior scored four goals to lead the Wildcats to an 8-0 mercy-rule win over Sault Ste. Marie on Tuesday at Wildcat Stadium.

Grant Botha scored twice and Wenton Harrison earned his second shutout in as many days for the Wildcats (3-2), who won their third straight game.

Day’s last goal came with 18:25 left in the second half and gave Alpena the win.

Alpena controlled play from the opening whistle. The Wildcats led 4-0 at halftime and outshot the Blue Devils 19-2 on the night.

Still, after 40 minutes the Wildcats’ play left something to be desired. Alpena was getting plenty of scoring chances, but had trouble finishing at the net and struggled to separate from the Blue Devils, especially on offense.

“It was very sloppy the first 25 minutes of the first half,” Alpena coach Tim Storch said. “You probably heard me say it, but it looked like swarm ball; like a youth game where you throw the ball out and you see 22 kids just kind of following where the ball went.”

Alpena got first half tallies from Noah Carstens, Caleb Zaborney, Botha and Day.

Carstens put Alpena on the board with 30:34 left in the half and earned an assist on Zaborney’s goal with 28:14 left. Carstens battled for control of the ball in front of Sault keeper Andrew Krans and Zaborney got a foot on it to tap it in.

The Wildcats kept peppering Krans with shots and barely missed on several of them. Midway through the half, Day hit Krans in the hands with a shot and Caleb Eaton had a similar shot about 10 minutes later.

With about 15 minutes left in the first half, Storch changed up Alpena’s system, putting Alpena’s strikers in better position to score.

It turned out to be just the thing Alpena needed.

Botha buried a penalty kick with 12:52 left and Day finally found his mark with 8:35 left, shaking off a couple of defenders to send a shot past Krans with his left foot.

Day scored again with 33:21 left in the second half, giving Alpena a 5-0 lead. Day completed his hat trick with 21:35 left, beating Krans in close.

“He led the league in scoring last year as a junior in the BNC, so I mean there’s no surprise,” Storch said. “My job is to find a system that best features him because he’s going to be a big attacking player for us.”

Sandwiched between Day’s second and third goals was Botha’s second tally, which came with 22:52 left in the half. Between the scoring chances Botha, Day, Carstens, Zaborney and Deven Saranen had among others, it made for a long night for Kraus in net.

“We passed the ball around a lot cleaner in the second half; a lot faster movements on and off the ball, forward passes and communication, so everything was all-around better,” Day said. “The finish was there too, which wasn’t there in the first half so much.”

On the offensive end, Sault didn’t register a shot on goal until there was 26:43 left in the game.

Day ended the game with his fourth tally with 18:25 left, beating Kraus in close again. Day scored twice in a 7-0 win over Oscoda on Monday and has seven goals through five games.

“It feels wonderful. It’s always amazing to score four goals, plus my teammates got other ones (goals) too,” Day said after Tuesday’s win. “I had a couple assists and assists for me are just as good as goals.”

Alpena plays at Bay City John Glenn on Thursday.