ELK RAPIDS — After a 6-1-1 start, the Grayling boys soccer team hit a rough patch this week in losing back-to-back games. First, it was a 4-1 defeat at the hands of Traverse City Christian on Tuesday in Traverse City, and Thursday the Vikings fell, 4-0 at Elk Rapids.
Certainly, there is no shame in losing to either team, especially when both games were played on the road in hostile territory under difficult circumstances.
Just the same, it’s clear the Vikings would have preferred to win them both instead of seeing their record slip to 6-3-1 for the season with two Lake Michigan Conference games looming next week.
The most trouble for the Vikings came in the person of Elk Rapids senior Mason Travis, whose speed and ability to get loose on breakaway runs have bedeviled many of the Elks’ opponents.
It was more of the same against the Vikings, as Travis connected on two successful drives to give the Elks all the points they would need to come away with the non-league win.
But the score is somewhat deceiving, as the Elks couldn’t break the Vikings defense until late in each half. It was 2-0 at the end of the first 40 minutes, and then the Elks didn’t score again until late in the second half.
“I feel the game was tighter than 4-0,” Grayling head coach Andy Moore said. “We started out dictating the pace on them, and played well the first 15 minutes.
“Started chasing a little, and then they got a couple goals back-to-back there about three minutes apart I would say. They took the momentum for awhile, but we rebounded. I was pretty happy with the game. Overall, we played well. We made such a big improvement of Tuesday’s game.”
Grayling had a couple of chances early on when Eliot Boik pressured the Elks’ goal, but failed to finish either attack. Jacob Schade also had a pair of opportunities that went awry.
Early on, the Vikings actually held an advantage in shots on goal.
The second half, Anthony Harrington and Cameron Kethcum each had a few scoring chances that they just couldn’t get to go through.
“I think we were pretty tired Tuesday, and it kind of showed,” said Moore. “We didn’t have a real good effort against TC Christian. We chased them around the whole game, and wore ourselves down.
“We got a goal (from Schade) late in the game, but they controlled the game from start to finish. In practice Wednesday we talked about having a better team effort than we had Tuesday. (Thursday) night was just a great effort out of everybody who played.”
Grayling is at home Monday for a 5 p.m. LMC game with Harbor Springs, and then the Vikings travel to Boyne City on Thursday.