HOUGHTON - The Michigan Tech soccer team was not set back for long.
In the biggest game in program history at Grand Valley State last Friday, the Huskies came up well short, falling 5-0 to drop to second place in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference for the first time this season. Tech rebounded quickly, however, avoiding the prototypical trap game against Ferris State two days later to win 2-0 and secure a home playoff game for the GLIAC Tournament Quarterfinal. The Huskies did not qualify for the GLIAC Tournament in the first two years of the program.
"I'll be honest, we were very, very tired after Friday's game," Tech head coach Michelle Jacob said. "I mean, we were just exhausted. It was so great to bounce back and look as strong as we did on Sunday. It really shows the character of this team, that even after a setback, we can come out and string a good game together."
While Tech lost by a full handful of goals, Jacob was not discouraged by the final margin.
The Huskies put six shots on goal and whiffed on several chances in front of net. They only trailed by 1-0 at halftime and the final margin was pushed higher as Tech left gaps in their defense looking to score.
"The first half it was a 1-0 game and it was a very evenly matched game. I thought we were playing just as well as they were for the most part," Jacob said. "Second half, we made some defensive mistakes that cost us goals. But we kept putting pressure on them, we didn't just turn over. I really think the score was not a good reflection of how the game went.
"It was a good learning experience. There were moments where we combined and it was working. We were getting shots off and the girls recognized that our style of play did work. We didn't manage any goals, but my gosh it was close."
In fact, Jacob has some strong bulletin board material if the Huskies meet up with the Lakers again the GLIAC Tournament.
"Their coach (Dave Dilanni) actually sent me an email after the game with a nice compliment," Jacob said. "He said it was a great game and we have great players. It was nice to hear the respect our opponents have for us."
At this point, there is only playoff seeding and pride left for Tech to play for.
The Huskies will host Malone on Friday at Sherman Field. On paper (or the GLIAC website), the matchup appears to be significantly in Tech's favor.
Malone has posted an 0-10-1 record in conference, managing one goal all season in league play against 39 allowed.
True to the company line, however, Jacob is ensuring Tech will not overlook the Pioneers.
"Lake Erie really taught us a lot," Jacob said. "With their record you might not have expected much, but they held us to overtime before we beat them. From top to bottom, it is not too far a distance in our league. I really don't think there are any bad teams in our conference."
Sunday, the Huskies will meet Walsh at Sherman Field.
If Walsh takes down Northern Michigan Friday - a strong possibility as the Wildcats have a 2-9 GLIAC record - the Cavaliers will likely be playing for their playoff lives against the Huskies.
"I think it is going to be a rough game no matter what," Jacob said. "They have pulled off some good ties and good wins against good teams. You know us, we don't overlook anyone."