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Almont knocks off Algonac, takes over 1st place in BWAC WITH PHOTO GALLERY

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Almont may not have made the trip at 100 percent, but that didn’t stop the Raiders from coming away with a victory and overtaking the Muskrats for first place in the BWAC.

Almont, bitten by the injury bug, opened up a two-goal lead in the first half and held on for a 2-1 victory on the road Friday afternoon. The victory helped the Raiders leapfrog the Muskrats for first place in the conference with two games remaining.

“We’re a bit of a mash unit, but the bottom line was their heart,” Almont coach Ken Kunz said. “The girls play with a lot of heart and character and they really wanted it.

“It was an ugly win, but they (Algonac) are a good team too.”

Kristen Schapman got Almont on the board in the 10th minute, a result of consistent pressure from the midfield. Alayna Panduren converted a penalty kick in the 31st minute to give the Raiders a two-goal lead, after drawing a whistle for contact — which looked to be mutual in pursuit of a 50/50 ball — in the box.

Kunz said his game plan entering Friday’s game was to limit Algonac by forcing the issue at midfield in an effort to neutralize the potent Muskrat offense.

“We were pushing up and shortening the field; we were trying to create havoc at midfield,” Kunz said. “As the game went on, you could see injuries and fatigue starting to take their toll.”

Emily Kochan cut the Almont deficit in half with a blast from the left side of the 18-yard box in the 37th minute.

Trailing by one at the break, and starting to build momentum, Algonac seemed to be in a good spot to at least net the equalizer in the second half. Chances were there over the final 40 minutes, but the tying goal never materialized.

Algonac head coach Shelby Fordt said the whistle resulting in a PK in the first half played a role in her team’s approach to the game. She went on to say it needed to serve as a lesson in mental toughness.

“We let them (the referees) get in our heads and it took us out of our game,” Fordt said. “I feel like whenever we’re down, we go into panic mode.

“You have to be poised, and we weren’t.”

The Raiders and Muskrats have now split the season series; Algonac won a 3-1 game on April 24.

Fordt said she wants her team to play to its potential over the last week of the regular season and into the postseason. She acknowledged the 2017 season, one in which her team features no seniors, is a springboard for things to come.

“We still have to keep going,” Fordt said. “We need to know that we are the better team.

“Eventually we’re going to get those breaks and it’s all going to come together.”

Last Updated: 5/20/2017 11:26:30 AM EST