What a way to respond

Wildcats rebound from loss, blank Harbor Springs at home

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Alpena’s Aidan Day (6) tries to gain possession of a ball while being defended by Harbor Springs’ Cole Hoffman during the first half of a soccer game on Monday at Wildcat Stadium.

After a frustrating loss in its Big North Conference opener last week, Alpena head coach Tim Storch was looking forward to seeing how his team would respond after a game they felt got away from them the last time they were on the field.

The Wildcats came out Monday and responded in a big way by shutting out Harbor Springs, a program they tied last year 3-3, beating the Rams by a final score of 4-0 at Wildcat Stadium.

“I talked to the guys all weekend and again in the locker room today that you learn a lot about a team after you have a tough loss. You want to see the resiliency and see how they bounce back,” Storch said. “We played very well. We could have had a few more goals, but credit to Harbor Springs, their goalkeeper played well and we were a little unlucky on some chances, but I thought the level of play was really good and I thought we definitely answered the bell.”

All of the scoring came in the first half for the Wildcats despite controlling the game from start to finish.

Alpena opened the scoring midway through the first half when Grant Botha was free in front of the net and made the most of a wide open shot, finding the back of the net.

Just over ten minutes later, The Wildcats found the back of the net again, displaying great hustle in front of the net. Aidan Day came away with a loose ball after a scrum in front of the Harbor Springs net and Day put the Wildcats up two goals.

Botha netted his second goal of the game with 8:18 left in the first half on an easy breakaway goal and less than five minutes later, great passing from the Wildcats led to another easy goal, this one coming off the leg of Noah Carstens on passes from Day and Botha.

“There really was great passing and great play all game long. There were times we were counting consecutive passes and we pretty much knocked the ball around at will and played at speed which is what we’re going to have to do to be a factor in the Big North and I think we can be,” Storch said. “I’ve been pleased with the interchangeable parts and the versatility and these guys I compliment them because they come to practice, the focus at games and they know when it’s time to get serious and they’re a pleasure to coach.”

The Wildcats continued to dominate in the second half, but were unable to find the back of the net. Alpena kept the pressure on the Rams in the second half and didn’t allow many scoring chances as Wenton Harrison recorded his fourth shutout of the season.

Alpena improves to 6-3 on the year and will be back in action today as they head to Gaylord in search of their first BNC win.

“Not only is it tough to play Gaylord because they are a big, strong, physical team, but it’s a tough field to play on and a small field because we’ll be playing on their junior high field because the turf isn’t quite ready over there,” Storch said. “It’s going to be a tough test for us on a small field against a good team. We wanted tonight to be a springboard into the rest of the week and it looks like it’s going to be.”