Chips drop opening pair of games at Oakridge

MUSKEGON — Manistee boys soccer saw its first action of the season with a tournament at Oakridge on Saturday.

The Chippewas failed to capitalize on their scoring opportunities and fell 2-0 to Big Rapids and 4-0 to Newaygo.

“It was good to see those young guys counterattack and build some offensive sequences together to get the finish,” said Manistee head coach Brandon Prince. “We just couldn’t put them in the back of the net.”

Manistee held its own against Big Rapids and trailed 1-0 at halftime.

“We finished last season playing against (Big Rapids) in the district semifinals,” Prince said. “They returned quite a few players, so they were a little more experienced than us. We had quite a bit of youth out there.

“The good thing was, we went toe to toe with them,” he continued. “We had plenty of opportunities in the game to even take the lead, but we just couldn’t put them in.”

The Cardinals tacked on another goal in the second half and the Chippewas were unable to respond. Manistee’s defense demonstrated early signs of promise, however.

“Defensively, we’re really young,” Prince said. “We’re returning two starters on the back end, so it’s kind of a work in progress, but they definitely showed some positive things moving forward.”

The Chippewas had little time to hang their heads after the loss before they took the field to face Newaygo. The Lions got off to a quick start and led 2-0 at halftime.

“We played back-to-back, so we had a five-minute break and then we turn and get back on the field to play another 60,” Prince said. “In the break we talked about coming out with intensity, but that’s a tough thing to do playing back-to-back like that. They caught us on our heels right off the bat and scored two goals in the first 10 minutes.

“When you’re trying to claw back from that, that’s tough,” he continued. “You’re exerting a little more energy than you want to in each possession.”

Manistee kept battling in the second half but were unable to find the back of the net. Prince said it was encouraging to see the team give itself opportunities to score and believes the Chippewas may be able to convert some of those chances as the season progresses.

“The guys did really well and tried hard, but early in the season they’re still trying to find their legs and their fitness,” he said. “You could see that show its face in the second half. We still had some opportunities that we couldn’t put in, which is good to see because if we bury some of those balls it changes the tone of the game for us.

“We’re a young team in the early part of the season, so I was glad to see those opportunities come off the bat for us.”

Manistee hosts Glen Lake today at 5 p.m.

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