By Greg Gielczyk

CLARE — A loss in the tournament is difficult to take and it’s even more difficult if the season ends in a shootout.

That’s what happened on Tuesday night as the Manistee Chippewas dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to Alma in the MHSAA Division 3 regional soccer semifinal at Clare.

“Things just didn’t fall our way,” Manistee coach Brandon Prince said. “But, we couldn’t say we weren’t having opportunities. We outshot them, and out-possessed them. We just couldn’t get that ball in the back of the net. It was back-and-forth in double overtime.”

Neither team scored in the two, 10-minute extra periods, which forced the game into a shootout, which the Panthers won by a 5-3 margin.

Manistee never led in the game.

The Panthers (18-3-1) scored the first goal of the game just 5 minutes in for a 1-0 lead.

But, the Chippewas, who came into the regional with a nine-game winning streak, showed why they’ve been so successful when a pair of foreign exchange students teamed up to score the equalizer. Gres Mandelli scored the tying goal for Manistee, with Yonn Robin providing the assist to make it 1-1.

A bad break cost the Chippewas late in the first half when a defender slipped on the wet field. That opened the door for Alma to score which gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead at intermission.

Manistee tied the game in the second half on a goal by leading scorer Jacob Scharp, a junior who is expected to return next year. Robin had the assist.

“The guys played well,” Prince said. “Tonight, they gave themselves plenty of chances. Just those little moments we didn’t capture came to bite us when the clock ran out.”

It was a solid season for the young Chippewas.

“I’m very proud of the guys,” Prince said. “They had a great season. We have a lot of guys coming back. But, we’re losing some good ones. We’ll put some things together next year and I think these guys will be a little more hungry and we’ll build on that hunger.”

The Chippewas, who finished 16-4, lose seven seniors off this season’s roster – Ben Schlaff, Jarod Wright, Ethan Edmondson, Jack O’Donnell as well as foreign exchange students Mandelli, Ronn, Rafael Goncalves and Johannes Reuting.

Alma (18-3-1) will face the winner of the Elk Rapids-Freeland semifinal in Thursday’s championship match.