MONTAGUE — Pentwater’s soccer team’s focus for a while now has been improving for the coming district tournament. Although the Falcons lost their ninth straight game Monday, a 10-2 defeat at Montague, coach Dan Lubin said his team got what it came for in the game.

“This is a really good game to see, because this is a game that tests us, to see where we’re at,” Lubin said. “I thought, against a pretty good Montague team, they held up well for most of the game. There were a lot of positives to take away.”

The Falcons briefly appeared as though they would give Montague a serious push when they scored a pair of goals late in the first half, cutting a 5-0 deficit to 5-2. Blake Bringedahl scored the first goal for Pentwater with 14:06 to go, lobbing a shot over the Wildcats’ keeper. Just 1:50 later, Tyler Plummer-Eisenlohr got the Falcons on the board again with a breakaway score.

“I thought we figured out what we were trying to accomplish here today, in terms of defensively and getting some goals on the counterattack,” Lubin said. “That kind of came to fruition there at the end of the first half.”

Unfortunately for Pentwater, that burst was all the scoring it would do in the game. Montague’s Blake Hutson scored twice in the final six minutes of the half, two of his four goals in the game, and the Wildcats ended the contest by mercy rule with 14:27 to play.

One positive to take away for Pentwater was that keeper Brandon Macher got his hands on a couple of the Montague goals, though not enough to stop them from going in. He also made several solid plays facing constant duress from the Wildcat attack.

For the young and undermanned Falcons — the team was playing with minimal substitutes once again — the focus has been on learning and improving and trying not to worry about the win-loss record.

“Every game is a learning experience, and I told all the players that at halftime,” Lubin said. “’What did we learn this half?’ That was kind of our focus for this game. We knew it would be a tough game, and they knew that, and it’s more about, what can they learn from this?

“It’s about learning and continuing to be committed and focused to what we’re trying to achieve. Honestly, it’s about districts and how we do from there. That’s our focus. It’s nice to win games, but our focus is always to get better towards the end of the season.”

From that perspective, Lubin said he continues to learn from his team how they best fit together in a lineup.

“I think (we’re learning) our positioning, where players best fit into our formation, and how we’re going to build to our strengths as a team,” Lubin said.

There’s not much time left to figure that out. Pentwater plays the Manistee JVs on Thursday, and after that the Falcons will plan to host a pre-district game next week against Kent City, a team Monday’s opponent, Montague, beat by just a goal earlier this season. Clearly that will be a tough test, but the Falcons hope to put a charge into the Eagles and make a district run.