Storch hopes to see consistent improvement from soccer team
Tim Storch isn’t making any bold predictions this season.
He simply wants to see his Alpena boys soccer team improve game by game.
A year removed from leading the Wildcats to one of their best seasons in program history, Storch will have some rebuilding to do as he begins his 10th season on Alpena’s bench.
“I’m not going to put a number on wins or where we’re going to finish in the league,” Storch said. “I expect us to get cleaner at the little aspects of the game.”
Getting cleaner in the little aspects of the game includes reading the game better, improving technically and tactically and knowing how to make in-game adjustments.
Alpena has shown an ability to do that a little bit early in the season, but the Wildcats must continue to improve as Storch leads arguably one of his youngest rosters in his time leading the Wildcats.
Where Alpena had a senior-laden team last year that set a new program record for wins (17) and came within one victory of a district title, this year’s team looks a little different. While Alpena has four seniors, the Wildcats also have seven sophomores, who will have to adjust quickly to the heightened expectations of playing at the varsity level.
Eight members of this year’s team played on Alpena’s JV team last season and Storch is hoping to see continued growth from his youngsters.
“I guess that’s my biggest expectation is to keep playing and keep growing. When we’re playing this many sophomores, that really should still be JV players, it’s going to be a season of a lot of ups and downs and growth,” Storch said. “I expect them to get better every day. I expect our seniors to lead the way and do the best they can.”
In net, Storch will be rotating senior Matt Diamond and junior Mason Bray. Both have played well this season, but the Wildcats will need to keep improving on offense.
Seniors Brett Najmowicz and Mike Clark has been a steady presence for Alpena offensively early in the year and sophomores Jacob Beaubien, Jack Cook, Cam Young and Austin Townsend have also been among those in the mix.
Through six games, Namjowicz leads Alpena with seven goals, Clark has six, and Beaubien and Abe Brege each have three.
Defensively, senior Joe Williams returns and Alpena will also be relying on juniors Andrew Dargis and Brege and sophomore Chase Schiller.
Alpena has already gotten off to a solid start this season, going 4-1-1 in its first six games with three wins in its annual Sunrise Side Soccer Challenge Cup tournament.
But the road ahead will be filled with plenty of challenges including a Big North Conference slate that Storch expects will be tough. Alpena scored wins over Petoskey, Cadillac and Traverse City Central last season and Storch knows those teams will be looking to gain some wins back this time around.
“It gets tougher,” Storch said. “We’re going into Big North Conference play and all those teams we beat last year, they’re waiting for us, so we’re going to have to be ready for that.”