Cats run out of steam
The Alpena girls soccer team’s two-game win streak came to an abrupt end on Tuesday against Cadillac in a 3-1 loss that saw the Wildcats holding out strongly defensively against a team that seemed to have a bit more fight at the end of the game.
“It all comes down to fitness. They were more fit than us and you could see that at the end of the game. Our time outside has been limited due to the weather. Besides our games, we’ve been outside three to four times and you can’t simulate the feel of the game in a gym,” Alpena coach Tim Storch said.
This discrepancy became clear as the game continued. At first, Alpena (2-1) played neck-and-neck with the Vikings and even scored the first goal of the game 14 minutes into the game off a Rieke Hoffner shot.
Cadillac was able to answer back with a Paige Fuller goal a few minutes later.
The Wildcats fought strong against a tough Cadillac team that mercied Alpena two years ago and the fight his team showed gave Storch some hope.
“I saw a lot of good things in the girls tonight. They played defense very well. The girls in the back are really solid this year. Alex (Przewozniak), Emily (Duncan), Megan (Martin) and Emily (Code) are really coming along as players,” Storch said.
The game stayed neck-and-neck for most of the rest of the half until Fuller booted in a penalty kick with four minutes left in the half that gave the Vikings a 2-1 lead.
Although three goals may have snuck by Alpena keeper Carley Hoeksema, she had a standout night and blocked some incredible shots throughout the night including a tight series of shots around the goal that just wouldn’t drop, including a shot that bounced off the top post and landed right in front of the line.
A Wildcat corner kick with 2:04 left in the first half gave Isabelle O’Neil a great shot at the goal but goal keeper Mackenzie Hurlburt was able to stop it.
The second half saw the Wildcats come out strong defensively, but they didn’t get the offensive chances they needed to catch up. They weren’t helped by a cramp from Przewozniak about two minutes in that kept her out of the game for several minutes.
Cadillac consistently pushed into Alpena’s zone and put Hoeksema’s skills to the test. She was helped out a few times by the post, but a fast break by Darby McLaurin snuck past with 30 minutes left in the game to take the game to a 3-1 spread.
The Wildcats were able to mount a few offensive pushes throughout the half, but the Vikings’ defense was able to break them up and disrupt the flow of the plays. Alpena had to rely on its defense to stay in the game.
Luckily, players like Duncan were able to finesse the ball out of the Vikings’ offensive side and prevent any more goals. Hoeksema picked up a few more big saves as the game wound down.
The last few minutes saw an offensive reawakening by the Wildcats that was too little too late.
“It was clear in the first half that both teams were operating at the same fitness level. I think we really threw Cadillac for a loop when we scored first like that but I give them credit for answering back so quickly and for maintaining such consistent offensive,” Storch said.
Eric Benac can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.