HOUGHTON - In the most pressure-filled game in Michigan Tech soccer history, the Huskies came out calm, collected and focused.
Almost eerily so.
Hosting Tiffin in the quarterfinals of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Tuesday, the Husky attack peppered the Dragon defense with 26 shots (against four allowed) and controlled the game all 90 minutes, eventually settling for a 3-0 victory. The three-goal margin doesn't nearly reflect Tech's level of dominance either. The ber-confident play belies a team that posted a combined record of 10-19-1 in the last two years of conference play.
Michigan Tech’s Katie Boardman fires a shot forward past the outstretched leg of Tiffin defender Jourdan Larison during Tuesday’s GLIAC?Tournament quarterfinal at Sherman Field in Houghton. Boardman had a goal and an assist as the Huskies won 3-0. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
"Yeah, we had a lot of opportunities today," Tech coach Michelle Jacob said. "We played a very good game. All the way from our forwards to our defense, I thought we played just calm, consistent soccer. So yeah, we could have had a few more goals, but three is a pretty good number. We will take that every time."
Dragon keeper Hayley Coppola was tested within the opening five minutes as Husky forwards Alyssa Hynnek and Katie Boardman shared possession of the ball in the middle of the penalty area. The only factor saving the goal was indecision between the two for who should shoot, with Hynnek eventually having her shot blocked.
No matter, Boardman put away the game-winner in the 19th minute from a penalty kick (handball) as the junior deked right before sidefooting a shot left. The successful penalty was a sigh of relief for Jacob after midfielders Janelle Riedl and Lindsey Van Rooy both saw penalties turned away two weeks ago in a 0-0 draw against Ohio Dominican.
"Oh yeah, big time," Jacob said.
"That really set the tone for the rest of the game."
The Huskies continued to apply pressure in front of goal, with freshman Lexi Herrewig, Van Rooy and Boardman also missing on solid opportunities in the first half.
Tech finally extended the lead when Boardman whipped a left-footed cross in to an open Herrewig two minutes into the second half, who calmly headed the ball past a charging Coppola. The goal was all the more vindicating as Tech finally solved the unusual sweeper-defense-system Tiffin employs, which held Tech to a 1-0 win in the regular season.
"In practice yesterday we really worked on getting more balls into the box," Jacob said. "And then getting some shots off with that combination play with our forwards. I thought they did a great job executing what we worked on. they are the only ones in the league (who use a sweeper). We watched a lot of film and that helped us understand where the weaknesses are."
Herrewig paid it forward later in the half, firing a low cross across the area that Amanda Whiting redirected past keeper Lindsey Gallagher (a senior brought in for her last game ever).
The versatility of the Tech forwards impressed the most, as the trio looked comfortable receiving or delivering the ball in the box.
"They are strong at so many things and I think that they are so willing to pass the ball," Jacob said. "No one on this team cares who scores, they just care that it goes in. They can take a defender on, they can pass, they can dribble, they can cross, they do all of those things well."
With Grand Valley stomping Northwood 6-1 Tuesday, Tech will head down to Allendale and play either Saginaw Valley or Ohio Dominican Friday for the semifinals. The winner of the semifinal matchup will play in the GLIAC championship Sunday.