A good way to start

Wildcats open season with victory over Ogemaw

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Alpena’s Josh Beatty (9) outruns Ogemaw Heights defender Dylan Zaske (16) during the first half of a soccer game at Wildcat Stadium.

It took one half for the Alpena boys soccer team to find its rhythm, but when they did, they put points on the board and opened the 2017 season with a 3-1 victory over Ogemaw Heights on Tuesday at Wildcat Stadium.

“The first half we looked like a team that graduated 10 seniors and seven starters. We had a little talk at halftime and made some adjustments and I thought we looked like a different team in the second half,” Alpena coach Tim Storch said. “We set the pace early in the second half. Our passing was much better and we we able to play everyone pretty much equally. It was a nice win and a good way to start the year.”

Despite not being able to find the back of the net in the first half, Alpena had opportunities, but were denied as Falcons goalkeeper Trevor Likavec made a few stellar saves to keep the game scoreless throughout the first half.

The Wildcats kept pressure on Ogemaw in the first half as Aidan Day was a spark plug for Alpena and sent a flurry of shots toward the Falcon net, but couldn’t get anything to go into the back of the net early. Alpena was able to keep pressure on Ogemaw, but also at times found themselves at the wrong place on the field, which showed some of the inexperience from a team that graduated several starters from a year ago.

After controlling much of the first half, the Wildcats nearly found themselves trailing at the half when Ogemaw made a final push with under 15 seconds as a shot sailed just over the crossbar and the Falcons were unable to get a corner kick off before the halftime buzzer went off.

“We seemed sloppy in the first half and it just looked like we seemed content with jamming the ball up the middle of the field. We didn’t utilize our flanks and wing play at all and played into Ogemaw’s strength,” Storch said. “Once we fixed that and began spreading the field more, we were much more affective as it allowed some of guys room to play and do some things offensively.”

The second half was a different story as the Wildcats did in fact look like a different team as they opened the scoring just under three minutes into the half on a goal from freshman Grant Botha as his shot went through a crowd of players in front of the net and past Likavec.

Seven minutes later, Alpena took a two goal lead as Aidan Day finally found the back of the net after being all over the field all night.

The Wildcats extended their lead to three with 25 minutes left in the game when Chandler Lantz put a shot on net from the corner that went off of a Ogemaw defender and into the back of the net.

The Falcons ruined Alpena’s shutout as they score their lone goal of the game with 12:26 left to play on a sideline kick that ended up with scrum in front of the net and Dylan Finkbeiner came away with the score.

“We had a lot of new guys breaking in and that was important for us. This was one of those games where you want to have everyone’s feet settled beneath them and play a little bit and I thought as the game went on we got stronger,” Storch said.

The Wildcats start the season 1-0 and will travel across the bridge of Thursday to play Sault Ste. Marie in another non-conference matchup.


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