From staff reports
TRAVERSE CITY — The Big North soccer race just got a little more interesting.
Traverse City Central handed Traverse City West its first league loss Tuesday night and in the process kept its title hopes alive.
Owen Stratton had a goal and an assist as the Trojans defeated West 3-0 at the Coast Guard field. Central finished 10-2 in the league. West is 10-1 and closes out with Petoskey on Thursday.
“We’re Petoskey’s biggest fans right now,” Central coach Rob Boynton said.
Central (12-8-2 overall) grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first half as Connor Hansen scored off a Stratton assist. The Trojans then took control in the first 10 minutes of the second half, scoring twice. Stratton scored 1:50 into the half off a Matt Grost set-up. About eight minutes later, Adam Stepan made it 3-0 off a Grant Dulude assist.
“It was a great start to the second half,” Boynton said of Stratton’s quick tally. “When you’re up a goal it’s nice to come out early in the second half and get another one.”
West (12-6-2) had beaten Central 1-0 earlier in the season.
“Everyone played well,” Boynton said. “Our back four — Kurt Frick, Jacob Muessig, Ethan Mason and Dillon Drossart — was solid. West has two of the top three scorers in the confernce in Cam Sipple and Christian Geiger. To hold them scoreless is a credit to our back four and our goalie Carl Gardner. Gardner faced seven shots.
Central, which is off until next Monday’s district opener with Alpena, also received strong play from Stratton in the midfield.
“He controlled the pace and tempo of the game,” Boynton said. “He let us get into what we like to do.”
The JV game proved entertaining as West scored two goals in the final eight minutes to tie the Trojans 2-2. Robbie Moore netted the two Trojan goals. Austin Skibowski and Cam Mouland tallied for West.