Second half struggles

By JONNY ZAWACKI

News Sports Writer

In what was a physical battle for much of the night, the Alpena girls soccer team struggled in the second half of Thursday nights game against the visiting Cheboygan Chiefs and eventually suffered defeat, losing by a final score of 4-1.

“It was a very frustrating night. We had the game in control at halftime and then we gave up a few goals that we shouldn’t have given up early on in the second half and the momentum completely changed,” Alpena coach Tim Storch said.

The Wildcats looked strong early and wasted little time scoring the games first goal. Less than five minutes into the game there was a scramble to the side of the Cheboygan net and the ball eventually bounced right out in front to a wide open Isabelle O’Neil who was able to put in the easy goal and give Alpena a 1-0 lead.

It was a physical back and forth battle for much of the first half as both teams displayed solid play at both ends of the field. Cheboygan had a few opportunities with under 10 minutes left in the first half, but Madyson Girard came up with several big saves to keep the Wildcats in front.

The best chance the Chiefs had in the first half came late when they had a break away, but saw a shot hit directly off the crossbar as Alpena was able to catch a huge break and take a one goal lead into the half.

“I think our effort was good for the most part, especially in the first half I thought we looked real strong at times,” Storch said.

The second half proved to be a much different story as the entire half was dominated by Cheboygan. The ball stayed at Alpena’s end of the field for much of the half and the Chiefs didn’t let up and scored two quick goals early.

Addy Pletcher tied the game five minutes into the second half and less than two minutes later, the Chiefs scored on a corner kick that curved right into the back corner of the net.

Cheboygan did not stop there and added two late insurance goals. Both goals came with under 10 minutes left in the game as the Chiefs were able to put an exclamation point on a dominant half of soccer.

“We’re giving up too many goals and it’s a team thing that we’re giving up too many bad goals as a team. Momentum is a fickle thing, when you have it, it’s great, but when you lose it, it’s hard to get back,” Storch said.

With the loss, Alpena falls to 2-5 overall and holds a 1-3 record in the Big North Conference. The Wildcats will be back in action on Tuesday when they play host to rival Traverse City West.

“All we can do is keep working hard and the seniors are going to be the key to pulling us out of this. We have talented freshman, but they’re freshman. We got to have the seniors demand excellence. We had this game in hand and didn’t finish the job,” Storch said.