HOUGHTON - With six straight wins and a 5-0 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the Michigan Tech soccer team has happily ventured into previously unknown territory this season.
But with the new success comes new challenges.
Not only has Tech compiled the longest winning streak in program history, but five of the six victories have come on the back of excellent all-around play.
Michigan Tech’s Danna Kasom pushes the ball upfield during a Sept. 10 home game against Northern Michigan. The Huskies are on the road at Saginaw Valley and Northwood this weekend. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
Such dominating performances have given the Huskies an unprecedented wave of confidence. And with it, the chance of overconfidence.
While coach Michelle Jacob has been on the lookout for an unhealthy dose of cockiness, she believes her team - with zero seniors and nine juniors among the 21-woman roster - has maintained its level approach.
"We have talked to the girls and we know every game is going to be important. So I don't think it's a problem yet," Jacob said. "I think with a team as young as ours, we just don't think that way. We are just fighting every game and its been good so far.
"We know good programs, can't go into it complacency. We have talked about it in practice, that we still have better soccer to play. That's the cool part is that the best part of the season is still to come we think. It feels good to have these wins, but we are just thinking of continuing it."
Tech will look to maintain its run of success at Saginaw Valley State Friday and Northwood Sunday. The Cardinals and Timberwolves rank No. 3 and No. 5 in the GLIAC, respectively. Each brings a unique set of challenges.
Saginaw ranks No. 3 in the conference in goals allowed - behind Grand Valley State and Tech - with just three in six games.
Against such an organized defense, Jacob will be looking for constant activity from the forward line.
"It is going to be our forwards being creative up top," Jacob said. "And there will be pressure on our midfield to play the right kind of balls. We have to make sure that we are playing through balls when we should be and long balls when we should be. We are really looking forward to our forwards being creative with threatening runs."
Against Northwood Sunday, the pressure will be on the backline to control the No. 2 scoring team in the GLIAC.
The Timberwolves are paced by a pair of pacey forwards in Alyssa Tomassi and Amanda Watson. Both standing at 5-foot-3, the duo have combined for 13 goals in nine games.
Tech's defense ranks second in conference with two goals allowed in five games.
"I think (keeper) Jenna (Phelps) has stepped up and is playing real solid for us," Jacob said. "She does a great job communicating with the backline. And the defense has done a great job limiting shots.
"Kaitlyn (Boelter) and MacKenzie (Jordon) have been so solid and consistent at center half. And Jenna (Proctor) and Mel(anie) Hoffman both bring unique things out wide."
At the beginning of the season, Jacob's goal for her team was to qualify for the GLIAC Tournament, accomplished by finishing in the top half of the conference.
At this point, the team ranks No. 5 overall - in the regional rankings for the NCAA Tournament.
Jacob and her team are aware of the ranking, but are trying to push it from their mind for right now.
"The thing that I keep saying is 'its great and its nice but what matters in the last ranking,'" Jacob said. "It does not mean anything to us until we get the last ranking. We smile and are happy that its there, but at the end of the day, its the rest of the season we are focused on."