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Wildcats’ season ends with loss to Cadillac on penalty kicks

News Photo by James Andersen Cadillac’s Nic Horstman (18) sends a header toward the net past Alpena defenders Joe Williams (9) and Andrew Dargis during the first half of a boys soccer game on Thursday at Park Family Field at Wildcat Stadium.

The Alpena High boys soccer team saved its best performance of the season for last.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, they fell a few kicks short of victory.

The Wildcats played Cadillac to a 3-3 tie through regulation and two overtime periods, but were ultimately edged 4-3 in a Division 2 district game on Thursday after the Vikings won on penalty kicks.

“Pressure changes everything,” Alpena coach Tim Storch said. “I’ll never look at penalty kickers and say we lost on penalty kicks because there’s so many other things that led to that.”

Trailing 3-1 at halftime, Alpena (9-13-1) battled back and tied the game with 13:21 left on a goal from Gabe Glawe. Both teams had a few chances in the remaining regulation time as well as overtime, but the rubber match between the two Big North Conference rivals came down to penalty kicks.

Cadillac defeated Alpena 6-3 in Cadillac in September and Alpena edged the Vikings 1-0 at home just nine days ago.

The two teams traded makes on their first penalty kicks as Bryan Farley gave Cadillac a 1-0 lead. Brett Najmowicz missed his shot as Alpena’s first shooter, but was awarded a re-kick, which he then converted.

Caden Wendover scored for Cadillac and Abe Brege converted for Alpena to make it 2-2 and Brendan McRoberts gave Cadillac a 3-2 advantage after Joe Williams missed for the Wildcats.

Cadillac’s fourth shooter Sawyer McClure missed and Michael Clark converted for Alpena, making it 3-3.

It came down to the last shooter and Cadillac advanced after Brady McLaurin scored and Caleb Worm was stopped on Alpena’s final attempt.

The loss didn’t take away from a solid effort by a up-and-coming Alpena squad that made the most of its chances in regulation, even after falling behind.

Glawe, who finished the game with a hat trick in just his fourth varsity game, gave Alpena a 1-0 lead with 17:06 left in the first half. He was credited with the goal after a scramble in front of the net.

“To think that we could have made the adjustments we made and tweaked the lineup like we did, and get (good) performances out of young guys,” Storch said. “Gabe’s played all but (four) games on the JV and get’s three goals in the district opener. There’s a lot to be very, very optimistic for with these guys in the future.”

From there, the rest of the half belonged to the Vikings. Farley slipped by a defender and scored with 14:50 left, McLaurin found some space and sent a shot to the left post with 8:31 left and McRoberts converted a header with 6:57 remaining to give the Vikings a two-goal lead.

Alpena keeper Matt Diamond faced 15 shots and made 12 saves, including several in the last 10 minutes of regulation.

Alpena was outshot 9-2 in the first half, but made the most of its chances in the second half. Glawe scored on a short cross from Clark with 17:15 left to make it 3-2 and scored again with 13:21 remaining, giving Alpena three goals on four shots.

The game gave Storch plenty of room for optimism in the future as the Wildcats could return the majority of its team. Though Thursday’s game was the last one for seniors Diamond, Clark, Williams, and Najmowicz, but Alpena could start next season with seven juniors who all made an impact this season as a sophomores, four seniors and Glawe, who will be just a sophomore.

“I don’t think I could be more proud of this group,” Storch said. “Other than the seniors, everybody’s under the age of 16, so when you think that they’re under the age of 16 playing varsity soccer (it’s impressive).”

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