Petoskey football relies on district hosting chances at Alpena

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ALPENA – First place in the Big North Conference seems out of reach for the Petoskey men’s soccer team this season.

But, there’s still a lot at stake for the Northmen as the regular season draws closer, especially home advantage in district play.

Petoskey added to his overall and BNC record Thursday on the road at Alpena by earning a 4-0 shutout victory.

The Northmen’s victory also helped them get back into the win column after a tough 1-0 loss to league leaders Traverse City West earlier in the week.

“It was a really impressive rebound game against a really good Alpena team that tied TC West last week 1-1,” Petoskey coach Zach Jonker said. “It was a must win for us if we were to help lock in second place in the league and the first seed in our district.

“Hopefully this was the start of a new winning streak that can propel us into the state tournament.”

The win moved Petoskey to 11-6 overall and 5-2 at the BNC, good for second place only to West’s 6-0-1 record.

Petoskey's Sawyer Webster came away with a pair of goals in the 4-0 win.

Unlike the other night against the Titans, the finish was on point against the Wildcats, who included a 3-0 lead in the first half.

Sawyer Webster scored on an Aidan Norton header from a corner to get things going, then Webster and Norton reconnected to make it 2-0, with Webster finishing for his second.

Ben Shuman then gave Petoskey the 3-0 lead following a corner sent by Webster.

“Our possession was very crisp and our movement was fluid,” Jonker said. “It’s always a good sign when the backline guys score in the run of play. Sawyer is a modern winger who starts in the backline but bombs forward when we gain possession to help support our attack.”

In the second half, Kurtis Mainland kicked a penalty kick with around 15 minutes left.

Jackson Jonker’s shutout win in goal and the rest of the Petoskey backline is their ninth this season.

While the championship game is over for the week, there is one game left for the Northmen at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 1.

Petoskey will host Elk Rapids for a special cystic fibrosis awareness game, with special purple jerseys – the color representing CF – worn by the Northmen. Petoskey’s Mainland, now elderly, has had cystic fibrosis since birth.

Against Alpena on Thursday, the Wildcats held a small ceremony for Mainland and Petoskey.

“Alpena surprised us by honoring Kurtis before the game and made a very generous donation for Saturday’s fundraising efforts,” Jonker said. “It was a really classy touch from Coach Storch and the entire Alpena football community which we all appreciated. The gesture really showed all that is good about interscholastic athletics.

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