Unbeaten in five straight: Huskies soccer tops Parkside for third win
HOUGHTON — For the better part of 45 minutes, the visiting Parkside Rangers soccer team had no answers for how the Michigan Tech Huskies attacked them. The Huskies pounded the Rangers defense time and time again, firing eight shots in the first half alone.
Junior midfielder Seulgi Lee broke a scoreless tie at 24:14, and from there, the Huskies were able to finish the rest of the match exactly the way they wanted to en route to a 1-0 win. The victory was their third straight and second in GLIAC play, and extending their unbeaten streak to five.
“We just work really hard, like as a defense, and also offensively,” Lee said. “We practice together as a team, and then we prepare. I’m really glad about how we play together.”
Lee scored her fourth goal of the season, and second game-winner, on a free kick from just outside the box when her kick sailed over a defender and then past Parkside keeper Mia Guyton’s left side.
Huskies coach Bulut Ozturk said, after the match, that is why they went out and actively pursued her before last season.
“I mean, that’s why we brought her in,” he said. “We knew she was going to be a goal scorer, a playmaker, and she’s a player that’s experienced. She brings that experience to us.
“She’s so technical on the ball, so good on the ball. She’s getting more and more comfortable with her teammates. You can start seeing that. Her having the game-winner, second game-winner now, it’s just awesome to see, and awesome to see the direction that the team is heading.”
The Huskies, who improved to 3-1-2 overall on the season, are impressing their coaching staff by continuing to work to improve on their offensive and defensive pressure, which is leading to more offense.
“It’s a group that’s believing,” he said. “Belief is important to be successful. So, you have to buy into everything that we’re doing. You have to believe in the process. You have to believe in, not only your abilities, you have to believe in your teammates.
“We’re learning. We’re growing. We’re developing. We’re learning from experience, as well, how to put together quality attack, how to put together a quality game defensively, and how to find a way to scrap and get results.”
While Lee’s third shot attempt got the Huskies’ on the board, she had other opportunities before that. She had a look about 10 minutes in that got blocked late. She also had another off a free kick that nearly made it to the net before it was blocked.
Later in the first half, junior forward Julia Pietila flew down the middle of the field and got a shot off while being covered by a Rangers defender. Guyton got there to make the save.
Four minutes later, junior forward Taylor Noble got behind the Rangers’ defense and fired off a shot that beat Guyton, but not the crossbar, keeping the score close as the teams went into the half time break.
Five minutes into the second half, senior defender Cassie Bonifas hit the crossbar on a free kick from about 40 yards out.
Ozturk loves the way his team is creating offense and continues to take chances, even if they are not rewarded for their efforts.
“We hit the crossbar with Taylor Noble. We hit the crossbar with Cassie,” he said. “We had other opportunities to score.
“We had 12 shots, I believe. We had maybe eight corner kicks today. We had several free kicks on top of that as well.”
The Huskies’ pressure kept the Rangers from being able to find ways to sustain any offense throughout the afternoon.
“We pressed really well today in the first half,” said Ozturk. “You could see that, and everyone committed to that kind of press. We held the ball when we needed to hold the ball. We defended and really, I would say, took Parkside out of the game.
“We only gave up one shot in the first half. They are a very talented team. They’re a very aggressive, talented team. They have a lot of great individuals on that team.”
Senior defender Molly Bolang, who is a key component of the Huskies’ defensive game, likes being part of creating the type of pressure the Huskies used to keep the Rangers off their game.
“We’re just trying to move the ball, move it quick, and then when it’s on, play it over and get in behind, and just be dangerous on all parts of the offense,” she said.
Bolang helped created the Huskies’ best chance of the second half when she launched a pass up to senior midfielder Kiersen Korienek. Korienek pushed the ball inside the box and then fired off a shot that Guyton had to dive to grab.
Bolang feels that being a part of helping create offense gives the Huskies’ attack another dimension.
“I like to play it over and see if we can get anything going,” she said. “It keeps us variable. The defense doesn’t know what to expect, so it’s definitely fun.”
Senior keeper Gracie VanLangevelde made two saves to earn the shutout.
The Huskies take their winning streak on the road this weekend as they face a pair of GLIAC opponents. Up first will be Saginaw Valley State on Friday at 3 p.m. Sunday, the Huskies will face Ferris State at 1 p.m.