Michigan Tech soccer drops opener to Winona State 2-0

HOUGHTON – Each opportunity seemed more promising than the last. The Michigan Tech Huskies threw numerous through balls and crosses in front of the net while dominating possession throughout the night. Each time, in unison, the crowd of 702 would cheer with excitement at the possibility of a goal as the ball was played into the box, only to end the cheer with a groan. Still, it seemed like a matter of “when” and not “if” Michigan Tech would score its first goal of the season.

But after 90 minutes in the season-opener, Michigan Tech is still waiting for its first goal, as the Winona State Warriors edged the Huskies 2-0 Friday night at Sherman Field.

“We attacked really well, and we definitely put a lot of pressure on their defense the last 15-20 minutes of that game,” Michigan Tech head coach Michelle Jacob said. “Either the timing was a little bit off or the pass wasn’t where it needed to be. I think we’re close. It’s a work in progress.”

Despite the Huskies’ numerous threatening advancements, they were never able to consistently finish its attack with a shot. Winona State held a 10-7 shot advantage, despite Michigan Tech controlling possession for much of the night.

“We were able to use the space out wide to get some crosses in, able to pull their defense and stretch them so we could create the opportunities,” Jacob said. “We have to finish the opportunities we create, but unfortunately we didn’t.”

Winona State’s Darian Molter converted her chances. The sophomore forward made it 1-0 at the 60:48-mark when she scored unassisted from outside the 6-yard box.

“She’s a heck of a player. She doesn’t have the speed of some of the other kids, but she has great control for somebody with her stature,” Winona State head coach Ali Omar said. “She can shoot left and right, and shoot from very tough angles.”

Molter wasn’t done after her first goal. With the Huskies pressing forward, trailing 1-0, Molter gained possession from outside the box and delivered a pass to freshman Courtney Wiencek, who fired a shot into the back of the net to make it 2-0 at 87:46. The pass and shot transpired so quickly that if you weren’t paying attention, you would have missed it.

“It’s not just one single play that makes (a goal) happen,” Jacobs said. “It’s usually a buildup of two or three things that happen before. I think we just had a little bit of a breakdown that had a snowball effect.

“The first one put us in a one vs. one situation and they have a great player who scores a lot of goals for them. The other one, I think, flicked off of somebody, so I think it got deflected, and there’s not much you can do sometimes about that.”

Winona State nearly went ahead 1-0 12 minutes into the first half when senior Meg Riebau’s free kick from 31 yards out bounced off the crossbar.

“That would have been nice and made the game much easier,” Omar said about the near goal. “Luckily, we were able to withstand the well-organized team of Michigan Tech. (Tech) didn’t let us take a breather for 90 minutes.”

Up next, Michigan Tech will look for its first goal against St. Cloud State on Sunday at noon at Sherman Field. For Jacobs and her crew, it’s not about adjustments – it’s about capitalizing on opportunities.

“I’m incredibly proud of our team both offense and defense,” Jacobs said. “They communicated and worked so hard for each other. More so, I think it’s for them to recognize all the positive things we did out there and use that as momentum as we go into Sunday.”