HOUGHTON - All it took was a headed goal from the smallest player on the pitch 10 minutes into the contest Sunday to give the Michigan Tech soccer team the freedom to ply its own insidious brand of keep-away upon Northwood.
With constant short passes and a wealth of technique the Timberwolves couldn't cope with, the Huskies created a catalogue of chances - though there were some missteps with finishing - and ran the visitors ragged for a 2-0 victory. The win, the fourth straight for the Huskies, moved them into second place in the GLIAC, trailing only Grand Valley State.
"Being able to keep the ball and make them chase us is key for us," Tech coach Michelle Jacob said. "I think they started to run out of gas and momentum. We kept moving the ball and that is where a lot of the opportunities we created come from, just being able to keep that ball.
Michigan Tech’s Mackenzie Jordon vies for the ball with a Northwood player during Sunday’s game at Sherman Field. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
"I thought we just did a phenomenal job of playing good soccer. Finding feet, moving the ball, going forward with it to create opportunities. I'm really proud of players getting into gaps so we can play those balls."
Sometimes struggling to get off to quick starts this season, Tech wasted no time putting one in the back of the net when sophomore forward Lexi Herrewig won a corner quick with some pacey work down the left side. Herrewig whipped an in-curling cross into the box, met with a power header from midfielder Annie Dahlquist, officially listed at 5-foot-5 on the roster.
It was Dahlquist's second score of the year, both on headers from corner kicks.
"Beautiful," Jacob said. "If she's not the shortest player (on the roster) she's close. But she has done a phenomenal job of making the right run at the right time. She tracks the ball and does it at a perfect time."
The Huskies added the insurance goal midway through the second half and conquered a recent demon at the same time.
Chasing a 50-50 ball into the box, forward Amanda Whiting beat Northwood keeper Julie Shields to the spot, and the subsequent takedown awarded Tech a penalty try.
Tracking back to last season, Tech players had missed four consecutive tries from the spot, with the latest mishit coming last Friday. This time, midfielder Lindsay Van Rooy stepped over the ball - MacKenzie Jordon missed Friday and Katie Boardman missed earlier this year - and calmly slotted home with a driven shot to her left.
"Finally," Jacob said. "It was great. Lindsay stepped up, decided where she was going to take it, decided where she was going to put it and made it go there. It's what we needed.
"Lindsay has great composure in those situations."
While the three points will go a long way to chasing Grand Valley, Jacob was left irked by the dearth of finishing her team displayed.
Herrewig, who terrorized the Northwood backline all game, clipped the cross bar and sent several other attempts either just wide or straight into the keeper's stomach. Van Rooy could have added her second in the 87th minute when she ran free onto goal, but pushed the shot wide of the charging keeper and the net. Numerous hard crosses driven into the six-yard box went unmet by either foot or head.
"We need to finish those," Jacob said. "We got two, but we definitely had some more that we could have put in. It's a work in progress. But we need them."