What a close one

OSCODA- Before the start of this season, Alcona soccer coach Tim Munro told junior Trenton LaVergne he needed to step his game up and become a bigger part of the Tigers’ offense.

LaVergne picked a great time to come through for Alcona on Monday.

LaVergne scored two goals, including the game-winner with 9:09 left and Alcona beat Oscoda 2-1 at Oscoda High School.

“It’s a great win. We played well as a team and we played well defensively,” LaVergne said. “Our goalkeeper (Chase Matthews) had a really good game. We stepped up our defense and Chase, when he has a good night, good things happen.”

The win puts the two teams in a tie for first place in the North Star League. Alcona (8-8, 4-1 NSL) lost to the Owls 5-4 a week ago, but can now clinch a share of the league title with a win over Fairview next Monday.

Both teams had good, but not great chances early in the second half with balls sailing over the net or to the sides. Alcona nearly took the lead with 12:45 left when Jesse Collins had a point blank shot on Oscoda keeper Brad Curley off a free kick.

The Tigers came up with the game-winner almost four minutes later when Jason Steiner sent a corner kick to the front of the net and LaVergne was in the right spot to send a header past Curley.

LaVergne’s two-goal night gives him eight goals in his last three games.

“It was a relief to just pull ahead,” LaVergne said. “Then we just had to step up our defense to win the game.”

Oscoda (10-5, 4-1) didn’t get any quality scoring chances in the time remaining, but LaVergne came up just short on two more scoring chances in the final four minutes. Another goal would have given him his third hat trick in as many games.

Oscoda was dealt an early blow when defender Noah Vargas left the game with an ankle injury, but the Owls managed to take the lead midway through the first half. Eric Dennis took a pass from a teammate and was able to tap the ball just inside the left corner of the net past Matthews.

After an even-handed few minutes of play, LaVergne netted the equalizer with 6:08 left in the half, getting a breakaway chance and booting a shot past Curley.

Matthews came up big in the final minute of the half, stopping a shot from Brandon Bissonette with 40 seconds left and one from Wyatt Livvix as time expired.

The Owls had some scoring chances, but couldn’t get many quality shots on Matthews in the second half. They were dealt another blow when Bissonette received a red card just after LaVergne’s second goal.

Alcona returns to the pitch at 5 p.m. on Wednesday at home against Tawas.

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