Marked improvement

The Alpena girls soccer team showed a marked improvement from the first time it played Cadillac this season.

However, even with the improvement, the Vikings still got the better of the Wildcats and scored four unanswered goals in the second half to win 4-0 on Alpena’s Senior Night.

Carley Hoeksema turned in a solid performance in the first half, coming up with several big saves in the last few minutes to keep the game scoreless. Once the second half began, Cadillac was able to find its footing and took control of the game.

“It goes down as a 4-0 loss, but we were 0-0 at halftime with a team that was co-champs in the Big North Conference last year and we were down 2-0 with 12 minutes to go,” Alpena coach Tim Storch said. “We played very hard, they got two very late, but I’m happy for the seniors.”

The Vikings got goals from four different players and took the lead for good with 6:03 gone from the second half. Sophie Johnson booted a shot into the net after the ball slide across the crease and Alpena defender Megan Martin attempted to clear the ball away.

Cadillac went up by a pair with 25:23 left in the game after Abbey Fuller converted a chance after a corner kick by Johnson.

Tuesday’s effort was a marked improvement from Alpena’s 9-1 mercy loss to Cadillac in April, but the Wildcats weren’t able to create scoring chances in the second half the way Cadillac did and the Vikings eventually wore them down.

“There’s no question (we did better). I’ve been preaching a lot of hard work and mental toughness to make them more competitive athletes and I think they’re beginning to see the fruits of our labor pay off,” Storch said. “The first step is to compete and play hard and play with intensity and we did that.”

Gabrielle Sake gave Cadillac a 3-0 lead with 12:25 left when she spun away from an Alpena defender and put a shot past Hoeksema. Emily MacLean followed with a goal with 9:43 remaining.

Before the game, Alpena’s large senior class was honored and each of them saw time on the field during the game. Storch praised those players for their contributions to the program and said they will be remembered for paving the way for younger players.

Alpena’s seniors are Hoeksema, Martin, Cassie Merritt, Anneliese Mathia, Hannah Fitch, Erin Kaszubowski, Jackie Nardi, Tatiana Burcar, Emily Code, Taylor Kieliszewski.

The senior class, the legacy is going to be as it was last year and in my first year: to begin to lay some footprints that the young travel players can use to play at a higher level,” Storch said. “These seniors here are laying the footprints for what the young girls will reap the benefits of in years to come.”

Alpena plays at Oscoda today at 5 p.m.

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