A solid way to start

LINCOLN-There was a lot to like about the Alcona soccer team’s season opener against Gaylord on Friday.

The Tigers held their own against a talented Division 2 school, had lots of scoring chances and gave an all-around good effort.

The only thing the Tigers didn’t do was win the game. A goal early in the second half proved to be the difference as the Blue Devils topped Alcona 2-1 at Alcona High School.

Nonetheless, it was a solid effort from the Tigers (0-1) who open the season with eight games against opponents in Division 1 or Division 2.

“That’s what (we wanted). We planned a tough schedule and that’s what I wanted to see,” Alcona coach Tim Munro said. “Two to one, that’s a soccer game. We were in it the whole time and it was just a good game.”

Jacob King’s goal with 29:04 left in the game broke a 1-1 tie and proved to be enough to give Gaylord the win. Alcona had some trouble with possession in the opening minutes of the second half and eventually it caught up with the Tigers. The Blue Devils swarmed in front of the net and had several shot attempts blocked before King booted in a rebound.

The Tigers had several chances in the remaining time, but couldn’t net the equalizer. Senior striker Trenton LaVergne had Alcona’s last good chance with 1:15 remaining after he fired a shot through a wall of defenders, but had his chance stopped.

Alcona’s lone tally came with 14:10 left in the first half when senior Ryan Schultz sent a shot past Gaylord keeper Ben Fry, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

Schultz was happy to score, but wished the Tigers had won the game.

“I got setup pretty good and I actually got pulled down so I didn’t get to see it, but it was a goal,” Schultz said. “We were expecting a win, but it can’t always come.”

LaVergne made his presence known most of the night and had several good chances for Alcona. Shortly before King’s goal, Jason Steiner sent a long pass to LaVergne, who slipped by a defender for a scoring chance, only to have another defender kick the ball away.

Late in the first half, a shot from LaVergne trickled toward the net before a Blue Devil defender cleared it away.

“We did have some chances. It’s a good group of kids, everybody played, everybody participated and we play them again,” Munro said. “It was a good effort.”

Nick Bringham’s goal with 2:12 left in the first half tied the game 1-1. Bringham’s shot sailed high and just out of the reach of Alcona keeper Chase Matthews.

Matthews had a stellar night in net for the Tigers, coming up with numerous saves against a Gaylord squad that was a lot more aggressive in the second half. With 20 minutes left, Matthews stopped a point blank chance by punching the ball out of the air. Two minutes later, Matthews made a similar save from his knees.

Alcona plays at a tournament in Alma today starting at 9:30 a.m.

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