HOUGHTON - Michigan Tech soccer coach Michelle Jacob has an enviable conundrum to deal with for her surging program, the very definition of a good problem to have.
Tech defeated Findlay 2-1 at Sherman Field Friday night to boost their overall record to 6-2 with a perfect 4-0 mark in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play. It was the seventh straight game her squad had scored at least two goals - giving them the second-highest scoring average in the league - and puts the Huskies on a program record five-game win streak.
And - despite all this - Jacob was not very happy when the final whistle blew Friday night. To put it mildly.
Daily Mining Gazette/David Archambeau
Michigan Tech’s Danna Kasom jumps into the arms of teammate Katie Boardman after scoring in the ninth minute of Friday’s GLIAC?soccer game at Sherman Field against Findlay. The Huskies won, 2-1.
"It was a win. Yes." Jacob said. "It wasn't the most pretty at times."
Coming off a program record 5-0 win at Northern Michigan last Saturday, Tech seemed to carry the momentum seamlessly against the Oilers in the opening minutes.
Sophomore forward Danna Kasom gave the Huskies a quick lead when she buried a header from a crisp Alyssa Hynnek cross in the ninth minute. Junior midfielder Lindsey Van Rooy slipped home the (eventual) game-winner two minutes later when a scramble in the penalty area gave her an opening from about eight yards away.
But that was it for strong chances in front of net for the rest of the game for Tech.
"We just seemed a little off today," Jacob said. "We seemed to have trouble connecting so we were holding on to the ball too long and ended up turning it over. That was one of the biggest things I had an issue with. Findlay put a lot of pressure on us, so give them so much credit, but it caused us a lot of trouble."
Playing with a two-goal lead certainly changed Tech's style.
After a free-flowing goal to open the game - two quick passes in the midfield, before Melanie Hoffman played Hynnek wide for an easy crossing opportunity - the Huskies seemed hesitant to press too many bodies forward in attack while protecting a double-tally lead.
The result was a plethora of harmless long balls for a stalled offense.
"They knew that this game was far from over, so I don't think that we let up, I just think we had trouble linking up. We just weren't in sync tonight," Jacob said. "I'm not sure what it was, but we usually do so well at possessing the ball by making simple passes and tonight it was just dragging."
Still, most coaches would volunteer for an NCAA investigation if promised an out-of-sync offense would net two goals.
The first score was so precisly played, the ensuing cross gave Kasom - all 5-foot-2 of her - an easy opportunity to score with her head. Van Rooy's poaching instincts kicked in for her team-leading fifth goal several minutes later.
If multi-goal nights come often when the team doesn't bring their A-game, Jacob will be looking at more than just the program's first ever playoff appearance at seasons end.
"For Danna to put that goal in, on a strong header that is the greatest thing ever," Jacob said. "She is the shortest girl on the field. And that goal gave us momentum to get the next goal, and that proved crucial. We obviously needed both tonight."
"It looked natural and simple," Jacob said of the build up to the opening goal. "That's what we want. Fluid passes. Play the way you are facing, play the simple ball."
Tech conceded on a striking header from Megan Gallaway in the 68th minute off a corner kick, but despite allowing 15 total shots, were never truly threatened again.
Centerbacks Kaitlyn Boelter and MacKenzie Jordan in particular showed well Friday, denying reigning GLIAC Player of the Week, senior forward Emily Beddoes, time and space to run on to through balls.
"Our first priority was to stop them from playing those long balls," Jacob said. "We are fortunate to have Kaitlyn (Boelter) and (MacKenzie) Jordan able to step and track.
"Kaitlyn is a smart, quick player. She has played outside back for us so she brings that (skill set) with her to the middle."
Up next for Tech will be Tiffin (3-3-2, 1-1-2 GLIAC) at noon Sunday. The Dragons took down Northern Michigan 3-2 Friday.
"We can learn a lot from this game," Jacob said. "We can't ever let up. It is great for us to get the two goals and then after (Findlay) scored we didn't let it happen again. It wasn't the best soccer we can play, but we rose to the challenge."