By Ben Murphy
Clare had the home field advantage on Tuesday but Houghton Lake held the edge on the scoreboard, topping the Pioneers 3-1 in both team’s district opener.
Brock Demo scored on a centering pass from Ryan Whiteman early in the game, though the Bobcats tied the game at 1-1 by halftime.
Houghton Lake booted in two more goals on 12 second half shots, with Clare failing to get a single shot off on offense in the final 40 minutes.
Eric Litke made 15 saves in the season ending loss for the Pioneers.
On Thursday Oct. 11 the Pioneers topped visiting Forest Area 8-0 in a Northern Michigan Soccer League cross-over match, giving Clare its first win of the season.
“We had eight goals by seven different players,” Clare head coach Doug Helmling said. “(Our) defense worked against some speedy Forest Area playmakers, allowing give shots on goal.”
Just six minutes into the game Camden Dice centered a pass for Jeff Staten, who booted it in the net.
Clare added goals by Aaron Stutzman, Dice, Hunter Seering and Jordan Hales to take a 5-0 lead at the half with Kevin van Melis, Whiteman and Hales scoring in the second half, ending the game in a mercy.
Litke picked up his first shutout of the year in goal.
“Forest Area has struggled this year like we have,” Helmling said. “They have had injuries and a short bench with young players. I wish them well next season.”