Vasile’s 1st goal powers Michigan Tech win

HOUGHTON – Alex Vasile knew she struck it pure when it left her foot, and moments later, her emotions took over and tears began to well from her eyes.

Vasile’s first-career goal was the first of Michigan Tech’s season, and it was enough to win the battle of the Huskies and defeat St. Cloud State 1-0 Sunday at Sherman Field.

“It was a feeling I couldn’t even describe,” the freshman said about her goal. “I’m usually not (an emotional person), but when I feel that I worked hard enough to get to that net and to get into the goal, I feel that all the work I just did paid off right there. And it got us a win.”

Vasile is right-foot dominant, but when Michigan Tech senior Jessica Splittgerber came down the line and crossed the ball into the front of the net, Vasile seamlessly struck it with her left for the one-timer at 22:59 of the first half.

“I did not (expect to score this early in the season),” Vasile said. “I just knew that I worked my hardest and I would get the goal right when I worked hard. I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m really happy that it did happen.”

The one goal was enough for Michigan Tech (1-1), thanks to its staunch defense. Similar to Friday’s 2-0 loss to Winona State, Michigan Tech dominated possession for much of the afternoon. But unlike Friday, Michigan Tech created more scoring opportunities to the point where Sunday’s contest could have been a 4-0 or 5-0 game.

Senior forward, Jacqueline Mielke – the team’s leading scorer from last season – had two one-on-one chances to score against St. Cloud State (1-1 goalkeeper Julia Clifford, with both coming in the first half. Her first opportunity came after she beat her defender with a right-to-left move before her shot was stopped by Clifford. Eight minutes later, Mielke controlled a long ball with a header and raced by her defender before Clifford saved Mielke’s shot.

“She’s a great goalscorer for us, and I know that she’ll be able to put those in the back of the net for us,” Michigan Tech head coach Michelle Jacob said. “I think that she feels a lot of pressure that she has to score, and I think (it comes down) to coming down and relaxing, doing the simple things when she gets in that position She’s still a wonderful player for us and it’s always a pressure situation when you have that ball and goal in front of you. (Her scoring) will come.”

Michigan Tech’s best opportunity to score in the second half came 11 minutes in, when junior Taylor Archibald fired a shot at Clifford, who was able to knock the ball away. Tech senior Kathryn Fife attempted to control the rebound in front of the net, but as she shot, went to the ground as a St. Cloud State defender came to challenge Fife. The 557 in attendance let it be known they thought a foul should have been called and a penalty kick awarded to Michigan Tech.

Michigan Tech junior goalie Kirsen Hudak earned the shutout for her three-save performance. All three shots came in the first half, as Tech dominated possession in the second half and didn’t allow a shot on goal in the final 45 minutes.

“I think the first half we were very sloppy,” Jacob said. “We didn’t possess the ball a lot, played a lot in the air and didn’t keep it on the ground. That just gave (St. Cloud State) more opportunities to come and counterattack us.

“In the second half I thought we did a better job of controlling the ball and playing simple and getting it out of pressure. We weren’t giving it away so many times. It was us managing the game much better in the second half.”

Up next, Michigan Tech will start a three-game road trip, beginning with a visit to Minnesota-Duluth on Friday.