TRAVERSE CITY — On Senior Night, senior Jack Dulude scored his fourth goal of the season to help give Traverse City Central a 3-0 victory over Alpena.
“It was from my brother, too,” Dulude said, “so it made it that much better.”
Sophomore Grant Dulude set up the goal, marking the second time in as many years that the two have connected for a goal-assist combination.
The Big North Conference win keeps Central within striking distance of front-runner TC West, which has a one-game lead in the standings.
“It gives us an opportunity to make the game at the end of the year meaningful,” Trojans coach Rob Boynton said.
Boynton started all 10 seniors along with freshman Sam Huver. Boynton said it was the second time he’s ended up doing that. Two seasons ago, it was Reilly DeTar getting the start with 10 seniors on Senior Night.
“We moved the ball really well,” Boynton said. “We have some good athletes up top who were getting on the end of the through balls and we had some great crosses from our outside players like Matt Grost and Grant Dulude and our forwards were getting on the end of them, Adam Stepan, Jack Dulude, Sam Huver were making some nice diagonal runs and threatening defenders, trying to get in behind them. Ryan Haworth played balls diagonally from the middle of the field, really got us in behind well.”
Central beat Alpena 2-0 on the Wildcats field earlier this season and increased that margin by one — and nearly three. The Trojans had two goals waived off by off-sides calls.
“We’re working better right now, improving every game,” Dulude said. “From the last time we saw Alpena, we definitely saw an improvement in the way we played and scored some more goals than we did before. It helped a lot that it was on our home turf and we talked a lot more and had better opportunities to score.”
“I thought today, we created a lot more chances,” Boynton said. “I know it was only a one-goal difference, but I felt we played a lot better.”
The Trojans led 1-0 at halftime on senior Noah Mitchell-Ward’s goal. The midfielder was able to collect an Alpena clearing attempt and loft it back in to sneak under the crossbar. An apparent Connor Hansen goal in the 14th minute was waived off.
“Our back four was really nice and organized,” Boynton said. “Kurt Frick, Dillon Drossart, Jacob Muessig and Isaac Russell — they didn’t give up any quality scoring chances on the run of play. Alpena had some good set pieces that could be chances, but through the run of play, I thought our back four did a really excellent job.”
It didn’t take Central long to build on its lead, as Dulude scored 1:29 into the second half.
After an Adam Stepan goal from Jack Dulude was called back due to an off-sides call with 3:13 remaining, junior Owen Stratton scored off a Mitchell-Ward assist with 2:30 remaining for the final 3-0 margin.
Central senior Carl Gardner stopped all five shots he faced.
In the district draw held Thursday, Central (10-7-2, 8-1 BNC) found out it will meet the Wildcats (4-9-1, 2-7) for a third time on Oct. 14 in the district opener. The winner of that contest then hosts TC West on Oct. 16.
“They’ve got a very good coach and they’re well-organized and they always play hard,” Boynton said of Alpena, which is coached by nine-time state champion Tim Storch. “You know it’s going to be a battle.”
Central hosts West on Oct. 8 in the Trojans’ final game before districts.
One of Alpena’s assistant coaches was ejected in the first half for arguing with a referee about a off-side call.
The Trojans hit the road for the next two, visiting Petoskey on Tuesday and Gaylord on Thursday.
In the junior varsity game, Central rallied from an early 1-0 deficit to win 3-1. Ethan Schuh, Robbie Morse and Jorge Antonio scored three unanswered goals — set up by Marshall Mast and two from A.J. Samba — as the Trojans improved to 10-2-1.