HOUGHTON - Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play starts for the Michigan Tech soccer team this weekend and the Huskies have one goal in mind for this year's conference schedule:
Reach the postseason GLIAC Tournament.
The top eight teams in the 14-team conference qualify for the playoffs. The Huskies have been on the outside looking in for their first two years since the program's inception but head coach Michelle Jacob believes the 2012 version of her squad has the right mix of talent and experience to get over the hump.
Early results would certainly indicate Jacob is right. Tech beat Northern Michigan (in a non-conference game) Monday 2-0 and the Huskies have scored seven goals in their 2-2 start, which includes a harmless loss to Division I Wisconsin-Green Bay.
"I think that we have come a long way since we started the program and I think that we have come a long way since we first started practice this year," Jacob said. "I think that the game against Northern, which is a conference opponent, even though it was a non-conference game is huge for our confidence and preparation. That was excellent preparation for the physicality and speed that we are going to see in the conference this year."
Tech travels to Lake Erie for Friday's game and then will be at Notre Dame (Ohio) to wrap up the road trip Sunday.
Both games will give the Huskies an excellent chance to earn early points in the GLIAC standings. Lake Erie was 1-16-1 last season and has started this year with just one win - a 1-0 double overtime victory over Notre Dame. The Falcons of Notre Dame are also 1-3 this season and have netted just two goals over the four contests.
Of course, Jacob is just focusing on getting her team to maintain its high level of play from the Northern victory.
"We are just focusing on playing our game," Jacob said. "Going into most games this season, we are not so worried about what other teams are doing. We just want to do what we do. If we play like we are supposed to, we will score goals and earn points."
There will be on change made to Tech's starting 11 as conference play opens up, with midfielder Annie Dahlquist still sidelined with an ankle injury suffered against the Wildcats Monday.
While freshman forward Lexi Herrewig dropped back to midfield against Northern when Dahlquist went down, Jacob said she would keep Herrewig up top against Lake Erie and would rotate several players through the midfield. One candidate to take a holding, defensive midfield role will be junior Katie Pappas, who is returning to the team after recovering from an ACL injury.
Herrewig leads the team with four assists through four games.
"I like Lexi at forward and what she can do from there," Jacob said. "And I think getting Katie (Pappas) back will really help solidify our midfield, especially with the hole Annie (Dahlquist) leaves."