TRAVERSE CITY — Petoskey’s young team against Traverse City Central’s short-handed one proved to be an entertaining contest.
And about as even as you can get.
The sophomore-heavy Northmen (5-5-2, 1-1-1 Big North) and Trojans (2-4-3, 0-2-1 Big North) played 80 minutes to a 1-1 deadlock Thursday at the Coast Guard Soccer Complex.
“I thought the second half we we definitely played the style that we’re looking to play,” Petoskey head coach Zach Jonker said. “We stretched them out a little more, kept the ball on the floor and made them chase it. They were little short-handed tonight, so I think we were able to wear him out a little bit, especially the last 15-20 minutes.”
Central, which had only 12 players dressed for the Big North Conference contest, took a 1-0 lead in the first half on freshman Spike Peterson’s goal in the 33rd minute.
Everest Noyes launched a direct kick from the right toward the box, and Peterson arced around the Northmen defense to the left as Noyes let loose and was able to put one in the back of the net.
“Great set piece,” Central head coach Mark Fiegel said. “Really strong set piece, and we had a really strong one just a few minutes earlier and just missed it. Nice to get on board first and then unfortunately on their set piece we missed a man we didn’t mark up like we should and that’s what happens.”
Noyes almost gave the Trojans a two-score lead, but his hurried direct kick with four seconds left sailed just left of Petoskey goalkeeper Michael Iverson and the frame.
The Trojans pulled back their defense to protect the lead, and held the Northmen at bay until another set piece led to the game’s only other goal.
Hunter Hicks’ direct kick ended up in a Dylan Aldridge header past Charlie Douglass.
Hicks’ assist on Aldridge’s goal moved him into the BNC scoring lead with seven points (two goals, three assists), one point ahead of Traverse City West’s Josh Hirschenberger.
Both teams traded scoring opportunities over the final 14 minutes, with Douglass making a save with 10 seconds left to preserve the tie.
“You know we had the majority of the chances there, but it was a really fun high school game, back and forth,” Jonker said. “The league’s really competitive right behind (TC) West, so it’s going to be a fun finish here the last few weeks. We’ve got a pretty good squad this year. Gaylord and Alpena are both really heavy with seniors. This year in the league, you’ve got to be ready every night.”
West’s 1-0 win Thursday over Gaylord puts the Titans (6-4-1, 3-0-0 BNC) all alone in first, a game ahead of Gaylord (10-2-1, 2-1-0 BNC).
Petoskey started seven sophomores Thursday.
“We’ve got a young group this year,” Jonker said. “So we’ve been kind of up and down and I think we even saw that in the course of this game, where we had some some stretches where we looked really nice and then we had some other stretches where our inexperience showed.”
TC Central right back Matt Stawski anchored a defense that allowed only eight shots on goal and kept the Northmen off the board for all expect that one set piece, and Peterson stepped up as an offensive threat.
“Matt Stawski played a Hell of a game,” Fiegel said. “Really good game. He stepped up for us. He’s new on defense this year and doing really, really well. Last Tuesday and tonight, a really good game. He’s playing terrific.
“Spike’s a great kid, works his tail off and and he is going to be nothing but good as we go forward. I’m excited for Spike.”
Iverson made four saves for Petoskey and Douglass stopped seven for Central.
TC Central plays Cadillac and Alpena next week, while Petoskey gets Gaylord and TC West.
Central won the junior varsity contest 1-0, as sophomore Gabby Trujillo notched the game’s only goal. Colton Warren made four saves for the Trojans (2-6), while Jackson Jonker stopped five shots for the Northmen (7-4).