Crossroads soccer falls short in season-opener, 5-2

Houghton Lake uses second-half rally to beat Crossroads, 5-2

BIG RAPIDS — The Crossroads Charter Academy boys soccer team took a 2-1 lead into halftime in its season-opener against Houghton Lake on Tuesday, but the Cougars couldn’t hold on as the Bobcats scored four unanswered goals in the second half to win, 5-2.

SHOWDOWN:Crossroads’ Joe Balanda (right) tries to stop a shot by Houghton Lake’s Joel Kubiak (left) during Tuesday’s boys soccer game at Crossroads Charter Academy. The Cougars gave up four unanswered goals in the second half as they suffered a 5-2 loss to the Bobcats.  (Pioneer photos/Daine Pavloski)

SHOWDOWN:Crossroads’ Joe Balanda (right) tries to stop a shot by Houghton Lake’s Joel Kubiak (left) during Tuesday’s boys soccer game at Crossroads Charter Academy. The Cougars gave up four unanswered goals in the second half as they suffered a 5-2 loss to the Bobcats. (Pioneer photos/Daine Pavloski)

The Cougars (0-1) got an early corner kick but couldn’t capitalize, as both teams went back-and forth for the first 15 minutes of play. Finally, at 25:11, Houghton Lake’s Austin Gandolfi found the back of the net to give the Bobcats a 1-0 lead.

CCA answered three minutes later as senior captain Andy Duddles found Brooks Angell for a game-tying goal, making it 1-1. Just two minutes later, Duddles had his second assist of the game as he found David Larson for a header into the net, giving the Cougars a 2-1 advantage.

“At first, I didn’t think it was going in, I thought it went across, because everyone just kind of stopped,” Duddles said. “Then it went in and I was like ‘that was beautiful!’ That was one of the most gorgeous goals I’ve seen in a long time.”

Duddles and Larson went for a similar connection on a corner kick later in the half, but it went just high, sending both teams to halftime with Crossroads up 2-1.

The Bobcats came out of the break firing, with Jared Roll scoring a goal less than a minute into the half to knot the score at 2-2. On the offensive end, Duddles got a great pass on the right side and fired, hitting the crossbar, but no net.

Houghton Lake took it the other way, earning a penalty kick at 24:51 as Roll beat senior goalkeeper Joe Balanda low and left, to give the Bobcats a 3-2 advantage.

“It’s always tough (defending penalty kicks) because it’s set up so you’re already at a disadvantage,” Balanda, the team’s other captain, said. “You’re really just trying to beat the odds. It’s tough.”

Balanda stopped a one-on-one break attempt soon after, and the Cougars had a few looks offensively, but Roll was able to get out on a break and score his third goal of the half at 19:29 to give his team a 4-2 advantage.

“We could handle everything they were doing, they were just out-hustling us,” Duddles said. “The defense containing and just getting in front of the shot and talking, shifting, just some minor things we need to work on.”

The Cougars gave up one more score to Alec Frey at 17:49 to make it 5-2, and they couldn’t recover for the rest of the contest as they dropped their season-opener.

“Basically, being up one goal in any game situation is the toughest place to be in because they want it and you’ve got it,” Crossroads coach Josh Yurick said of the Cougars’ first-half lead. “Sometimes the other team can rally and that’s what you saw (Tuesday). The other thing that you hear a lot about is when you try to play another team’s style, and I think we saw a little bit of that as well. There were flashes of brilliance but there were a lot of holes and a lot of gaps.”

The Cougars were outshot, 23-15, but with Balanda making 14 saves and other positives on the night, the senior leaders on the squad are confident they can turn things around.

“I feel like it went well,” Balanda said. “We had several lapses, but overall we’re coming along pretty well. We have a couple things to work out, obviously, but we’re definitely coming around.”

“I think we did pretty well, it’s just right now, we’re out of shape and we’re still learning,” Duddles said. “This a new experience for a lot of our guys, playing at the high school level, so we’ve got work to do.”

The Cougars are in action again on Thursday on the road to take on Gladwin.

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