Alpena soccer ready for district final matchup with Petoskey

News File Photo Alpena's Wesley Decker moves upfield with the ball during a boys soccer game against Petoskey last month. Alpena will play Petoskey for the third time this season today in a district final in Petoskey.

ALPENA — The Alpena High boys soccer team hopes the third time’s the charm this afternoon.

For the third time this season, the Wildcats (14-4-3) will play Petoskey and this time it’s for postseason glory as a Division 2 district title is on the line.

Game time is slated for 4 p.m. in Petoskey.

Petoskey has had Alpena’s number this season, defeating the Wildcats by a combined 10-0 score in two games. The Wildcats know how talented Petoskey is and hope to pressure them more than they have in their previous meetings.

Alpena is in the district final for the second time since 2019 and could win its first district championship since 1997 with a victory.

“They’re a talented team and they play better when they’re not put under much pressure,” Alpena coach Tim Storch said. “The first two games, we didn’t put much pressure on them either offensively or defensively.”

Petoskey’s first win — a 6-0 triumph — came in September in Petoskey, putting a stop to an early season Alpena winning streak.

Storch wasn’t happy with his team’s effort in that contest, but the Wildcats played better the second time despite a loss — a 4-0 in Alpena.

“Our effort in the second game was better than the first,” Storch said. “But we need to eliminate mistakes and have better execution. Three of the goals they scored came on two corner kicks and a penalty kick.”

The Wildcats have played well in two postseason contests so far, defeating Cadillac 8-0 and Bay City Western 3-1. Both games saw Alpena score first and Storch knows another fast start today could give his team an early momentum boost.

“We’ve started much better as of late and they’ve really taken that to heart,” Storch said. “We’ve got to jump out early.”

A fast start could also go a long way toward helping Alpena to a district championship. The Wildcats got close in 2019, but were defeated by Gaylord. The chance to play for a district championship is one not many Alpena players have gotten, something Storch has imparted to his players.

“They can certainly make their mark,” Storch said. “I told the guys (on Wednesday) that there have been a number of good players who went through the program who didn’t play in a district final.”

The winner of today’s game moves on to a regional next week at Cedar Springs.


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