Storch, Alpena boys soccer team thinking big in 2018

News Photo by James Andersen The 2018 Alpena High boys soccer team includes Wenton Harrison, Craig Tagliareni, Caleb Zaborney, Deven Saranen, Hunter Canute, Caleb Eaton, Kolton Goebel, Noah Carstens, Kyle Barbeau, Aidan Day, Grant Botha, Jack Hamp, Josh Beatty, Jake Schiller, head coach Tim Storch and assistant coach Randy Stark.

The Alpena boys soccer program has come a long way since Tim Storch took over as head coach.

The Wildcats have experienced many ups-and-downs through Storch’s first seven seasons at the helm, but year No. 8 has Storch believing that his team can compete with anyone.

Despite graduating a handful of talented players and competing in an always tough Big North Conference, Storch and the Wildcats have high expectations for this season.

“I think we can play with anybody in the Big North Conference and I think we have the ability to legitimately look at a district title. We dropped down to Division 2 this year and the other teams in our district, we feel we are more than capable of playing with and beating those teams,” Storch said. “We have to stay healthy, we have to be playing our best soccer at the right time and we’ll see what happens when we get to that stage, but for now we’re taking things one game at a time.”

Alpena has gotten off to strong start to the season and put together a recent five-game winning streak. The Wildcats are 5-3 and are coming off a tough loss in their BNC opener, losing 1-0 to Traverse City Central on Thursday.

It will be an important year for Alpena to build some confidence within the program for the next few years. The Wildcats once again have many capable players ready to lead the way.

Aidan Day is back for his senior year and will look to build on a record-breaking junior campaign. Day will be the premier goal scorer for the Wildcats, but seniors Deven Saranen, Noah Carstens and sophomore Grant Botha will also give Alpena reliable scoring options.

“We have grown exponentially, tactically the way we’re playing. We were very one dimensional for a number of years, where we relied on just one or two players and we played very direct,” Storch said. “Now I think when we’re playing our best soccer we’re knocking it around all over the park and we can switch the point of attack and go through the center of the field or make on big switch to the other side of the field which keeps teams off balance because they can’t just funnel their defense on one side of the field and know we’re going to try to plug it up a certain way which was the way we used to play. I think we have the ability tactically to understand that we can move the ball and we’re much more difficult to defend when everyone is getting a couple touches on the ball.”

Juniors Caleb Zaborney and Caleb Eaton will provide solid midfield depth for Alpena this year. The Wildcats are still awaiting the return of injured junior Craig Tagliareni who will likely return to the starting lineup in the near future.

Defensively, Alpena had to replace two graduates from last years team, but juniors Jake Schiller and Kolton Goebel have turned into a bona fide center back duo and the Wildcats will rely on senior Josh Beatty, junior defenders Jack Hamp, Kyle Barbeau, Hunter Canute and goalkeeper Wenton Harrison.

“It’s exciting to see the potential that Alpena soccer has, especially the way we’re going. We graduated seven seniors last year who were all key players and we only returned four seniors to this squad and we’ve been able to see a lot of guys that spent time as role players, step up and play,” Storch said. “Our guys are really developing at a quicker rate than maybe they have before. If there is one thing I’d like to see, it’s more numbers. We’re a little thin with 14 on the varsity and I’d prefer to have a few more, but I’m not going to take a kid from JV before they’re ready and make them a full time varsity player. We are just going to do our best to get by.”