One step at a time

Offense has been hard to come by for the Alpena girls soccer team as of late.

The Wildcats got their offense going on Monday, but it came just a little bit late as Alpena lost 2-1 to Petoskey at Wildcat Stadium, giving the Northmen their first win of the season.

Petoskey got two first-half goals and kept Alpena keeper Carley Hoeksema on her toes most of the night.

The Northmen took a 1-0 lead 15 minutes into the first half after Hoeksema dropped an apparent save. The goal was credited to Keana Kamalli.

Petoskey struck again with 11:06 left in the half when Jennifer Ling sent a cross from the right side to Liz Fraser, who headed it in.

“I thought in the first half we had really good combination play, but we made two errors defensively and you can’t make any errors,” Alpena coach Tim Storch said.

Despite the two early goals, Hoesema had a solid game for the Wildcats (3-7, 1-5 Big North) and came up with at least a dozen saves to keep Petoskey from blowing the game open. Storch was pleased with Hoeksema’s performance, especially after challenging her to step up her play at halftime.

“The mark of a good athlete and a good competitor is that they take the criticism their coach gives and they pick it up and they use it to their advantage,” Storch said of Hoeksema. “It’s a great performance for her, especially coming off the first half.”

Playing without two key starters in Lexi Rushing and Megan Martin, the Wildcats finally got some offense going in the second half. After the Northmen banged a chance off the post eight minutes into the half, Emily Duncan cut Petoskey’s lead in half at the 9:40 mark. Tatiana Burcar sent an indirect kick toward the net and Duncan’s shot caromed off the crossbar and bounced down past Petoskey keeper Kelsey Ance.

A few minutes later, Burcar had a chance with open space, but sent the ball wide right of the net.

“It looked like we had a great opportunity from ten yards out and we blew it wide,” Storch said. “We did put pressure on them in the second half.”

Big North Conference play hasn’t been kind to the Wildcats this season as they’ve managed just a pair of goals in their last five conference games. Still, Storch saw some positives from his team, which has played hard despite being shorthanded.

“I’m really proud of my girls, they’re playing so hard. We’re beginning to play full games. Early in the season, last week even, we were playing spurts of games, 38 minutes, 50 minutes, then the Gaylord game they got a late one,” Storch said. “We played right to the bitter end (tonight). They were league champs last year and we dropped one 2-1 to the league champs.”

Alpena plays at Sault Ste. Marie today at 5 p.m.

James Andersen can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.