Huskies open soccer season with 2-0 win over Bulldogs
HOUGHTON — A late August breeze rolled across Sherman Field, making it a perfect night for a home opener for the Michigan Tech soccer team Thursday night. In a battle of dog breeds, between the Huskies and the the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, solid defense, good time management and two goals from freshmen Grace Shaw and Gabby Sgambati allowed the hosts to start the season in the positive.
Shaw, who had two shots in the contest, finally broke the scoreless tie when her shot from the right side found its way past Bulldogs keeper Carlye Wright at 64:05.
To score in her first collegiate contest was something that Shaw was not prepared for.
“It’s surreal,” she said. “It’s an amazing feeling. It was an amazing team effort and I’m very humbled to have scored today.
Shaw hopes that the Huskies can use Thursday’s victory as a springboard for the season.
“I think the team is going to use it and build off of it,” Shaw said. “We found out a lot of offensive traits that worked today, and we’re just going to keep building off of that.”
The second tally came late in the contest when Sgambati found an opportunity to go one-on-one with the keeper with 9:09 left in the game, and then best her with a shot.
“(It felt) really good,” Sgambati said. “I’m really happy. I’m glad that we won the game. I always kind of think that we can win. We’re capable (and) we worked really hard.
“Duluth’s a really good school. We’re also really good. Preseason showed that we could win this game.”
Huskies coach Michelle Jacob felt that her team proved they are ready for the challenges the season will throw at them.
“We’re super excited to walk away with a win today,” she said. “I could tell that the girls were a little bit nervous, (but) once we got a few minutes into the game, their nerves started to calm down and they started to put things together.”
Despite not playing completely the way she wanted them to, Jacob felt the Huskies settled into a rhythm as the game moved forward.
“We completely forgot to go over game management,” said Jacob. “So we needed them to be smart in the last five or ten minutes, and thankfully they did that. They’re experienced players (and are) very smart, intelligent females. I think we were just fortunate that they didn’t give that game away in the last ten minutes.
“We kept fighting and kept our scoreboard clean. We’re proud of all of our players and their performance.”
Bulldogs coach Greg Cane felt that the Huskies made life difficult for his squad throughout the game, but mostly in the opening 45 minutes.
“I felt that they played a good first half,” he said. “They had us guessing a bit in the half (and) reacting, as opposed to being on the front foot, (and) did a good job keeping it.
“I thought we played well enough to be at 0-0, but not (well enough) to be ahead.”
Though coach Cane was happy with how the Bulldogs played in the second half, the goal from Shaw stalled any momentum they built.
“Grace is a very good player, and (when) she gets an opening like that, it’s going to work most of the time,” said Cane. “That becomes the difference in the game. We probably deserved a little bit better today.”
The Huskies will host St. Cloud State on Saturday at 1 p.m.