MARQUETTE - The alternative would have been rather unpleasant for the Marquette Senior High School boys soccer team.
The Redmen scored a first-half goal on a heads-up play by senior center midfielder Billy Mullett and held off Iron Mountain 1-0 at Kaufman Sports Complex on Tuesday evening, just three days after losing by that same score to the Mountaineers.
Marquette also lost at Iron Mountain on Sept. 4, the only times IM has beaten MSHS in the three-year history of the Mountaineers program.
Marquette’s Logan Zueger (21) and Iron Mountain's Nick Brule (23) get tangled trying to gain possession of the ball during the first half in Marquette on Tuesday. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
"Those were the two worst losses this season," said Redmen coach Matt Tebo. "Not because Iron Mountain isn't a good team, but it was just the way we lost them."
In the first game, IM scored late in regulation to forge a 2-2 tie, then won 5-4 in the five-round, penalty-kick phase.
Saturday at a tournament in Rhinelander, Wis., was even worse - Marquette outshot IM 30-8 but lost on a goal scored with just 45 seconds to go.
"I was happy with the win today," Tebo said after Tuesday's victory improved the Redmen record to 9-4-3. "Iron Mountain worked really, really hard.
"It was a tense finish, but every 1-0 game should be tense. We had some other opportunities to score, but we'll take it."
IM coach Rob Bogaudo said the teams' familiarity with each other makes for a heated match.
"When they're not between the lines, the kids are all friends," Bogaudo said. "A lot of them play with and against each other on clubs and other teams."
The Mountaineers had to be patient against a team like Marquette.
"(Marquette has) got kids with such great ball-handling skills, and we struggle at the midfield," he said. "But we make up for it with a defense that's just ridiculous. But it's hard for us to get goals at times."
Mullett broke through that defense and scored the only goal of the game by taking advantage of a rather fluky play about 12 1/2 minutes before halftime.
"They were trying to pass it and it went right to me," Mullett said as he was stationed about 25 yards away from the net. "I just had to turn and I got the ball on net."
The ball couldn't have been placed better, a looping shot from the left side of the field into the right corner of the net, just above the outstretched arms of IM senior goalie Max Frorenza and sinking just under the crossbar.
It ended the Redmen's early frustrations as they dominated action in the first 20 minutes, getting several excellent scoring chances but not severely testing Frorenza.
"They have a lot of speed in the back line, so we were working to change things up on how we attacked," Mullett said.
While IM made a better game of it later on, the numbers showed how dominant Marquette was, with MSHS outshooting the Mountaineers 9-2 in the first half and 14-5 for the game.
Shots on goal were similar. The Redmen had a 6-1 advantage in the opening 40 minutes and 9-3 overall as MSHS junior Tony Lackey had three saves and Frorenza eight.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.