HOUGHTON - With about five yards of space between her and the ball, Michigan Tech forward Katie Boardman had a step on her Ashland counterpart as they sprinted into the penalty area Friday night. With the ball on the right side of the field - and Boardman heavily favoring her left foot - it was obvious even to a dancing Blizzard T. Husky what was coming next. The junior forward would cut back and try to put away her seventh goal of the season on her stronger boot. Everyone at Sherman Field could see it.
And it still worked.
Boardman got a step on the Ashland fullback and blasted a strike over the head of Eagles keeper Rebecca Plescia to put Tech up 1-0 in the 28th minute.
Michigan Tech’s Alyssa Hynnek and Findlay’s Kathleen Demaree fight for a ball during Friday’s GLIAC?soccer game at Sherman Field.?Tech won 2-0. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
"She likes it on her left foot and she can cut so quickly that a lot of players, even if they know it is coming can't keep up," Tech coach Michelle Jacob said.
"When I see her coming in hard, I know that's the time to cut it back, because no matter what she does she is not going to be able to turn fast enough to get to the ball," Boardman added.
Danna Kasom pounced on the rebound of Boardman's shot in the second half to make it 2-0 in the 61st minute and Tech cruised from there to their ninth straight win and an 8-0 mark in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Much like Boardman's tally, Tech has risen to the top of the GLIAC table in a fairly obvious way.
The Huskies play sound, fundamental defense. They pass and move. They run into open space. They possess the ball with the lead in a way that would make American football coach Tom Kearly smile. There has been no reinventing of the wheel, but that doesn't mean any conference opponent has been able to disrupt them yet.
Considering it is only the third year in the program's history, the accomplishments to this date are as impressive as the control on the field.
"I'd have to say our chemistry is really the difference," Boardman said. "We have been together for three years now and it is just a solid group of girls."
Tech put five shots on goal to Ashland's three, but the basic statistics don't tell an accurate story.
Possession remains the No. 1 item on Jacob's agenda, and the Huskies had the Eagles chasing for most of the night. Fullbacks Melanie Hoffman and Jenna Proctor were particularly impressive filling the wings to open up options for midfielders Lindsey Van Rooy and Janelle Riedl.
The control on offense led to strong defense, as Ashland was often hasty or careless with the ball when they did manage to get it back.
"When we are possessing, even if we turned it over we were able to possess it so well they often were just smacking it back to us," Jacob said. "As long as we clean up those, it really does work in our favor. And (center halves) Kaitlyn (Boelter) and (MacKenzie) Jordan did a great job with that tonight."
While the game was never really in doubt - keeper Jenna Phelps kept her sheet clean with a diving save of Haley Frick for the only challenge of the night in the second half - Kasom's fourth goal of the year sealed it for good.
After flicking a header to set up Boardman's opening goal, Boardman repaid the favor in the 61st minute.
Sprinting down the left side of the field - opposite her position in the first half - Boardman blasted a tough angle shot from around 40 yards out when she saw Plescia was off her line. The Ashland keeper managed to tip it onto her post, but the rebound fell to Kasom for an easy put away.
"That's exactly what we want to happen. We want people running in on those following the shot," Jacob said.
"We have been talking to the girls a lot about reading what the keeper is doing," Jacob added. "If she is off her line, that is a good time to hit those."
Boardman lined up at all three forward positions Friday night, challenging the defense with runs from every angle.
"We prefer her all over the field," Jacob said. "With our forwards we really are trying to make them be creative and versatile. We don't want them to think, 'because I play left wing I stay on the left the whole time.' For us, we want her to go at people. Where doesn't matter so much."
Tech hosts Ohio Dominican at noon Sunday, with ODU fresh off a 2-0 win over Northern Michigan. In a surprise, Grand Valley State fell 3-2 at Findlay Friday afternoon, giving Tech a full four point advantage in the GLIAC standings.
"It is hard not to look forward to (Grand Valley)," Boardman said. "But as coach always tells us, we just have to take it one game at a time. Grand Valley will get our full attention soon."
Michigan Tech's Alyssa Hynnek and Findlay's Kathleen Demaree fight for a ball during Friday's GLIAC?soccer game at Sherman Field.?Tech won 2-0. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)