Huskies galvanized by win over D-1 Phoenix
HOUGHTON – Michigan Tech soccer coach Michelle Jacob was obviously thrilled with the performance her team put together to steal a 1-0 win on the road at Division I Wisconsin-Green Bay.
But it was what she heard from her team on the bus home that has left Jacob galvanized in the days since the victory.
“After the game on the bus ride home, you could hear the girls saying, ‘that’s how we need to play every game, we can do that every time,'” Jacob said. “You could just see it dawning on them, that this is what it should be looking like every time we are on the field.”
So what did this elite product the Huskies displayed look like?
It started with relentless running.
Jacob has substituted liberally this season with an influx of impact freshmen deepening her bench, and as a result, Tech has been able to press longer and more vociferously on defense.
At least, theoretically.
That energy had been wanting in a loss to Wisconsin-Parkside and misplaced in a defeat at home against Bemidji State.
But Sunday in Green Bay, the Huskies put together “an incredible team effort” in Jacob’s words, to hold the Phoenix scoreless on their home field.
“They wanted that game so bad,” Jacob said. “The pressure we put on the ball caused Green Bay to turn it over again and again. And then when we possessed the ball, we gained control and were able to advance into attack.
“At one point we had five freshmen on the field and it wasn’t an issue. You couldn’t tell who was freshman and who was a senior.”
It was that high defensive line and ball pressure that helped Tech to a share of the GLIAC title last season and with a bounty of fresh legs to choose from, the Huskies should be even better this season if they commit to the tiring scheme.
With Northern Michigan on deck this Saturday at Sherman Field, Jacob hopes the commitment her team demonstrated Sunday will once again be on display against the Huskies’ biggest rivals.
“We just kept pressing, pressing and pressing,” Jacob said. “And that’s what we want.”
Of course, with a high line defensively – which is necessary for the pressing of the forwards and midfielders to remain effective – there will occasionally be gaps for the opposing team to exploit.
And that’s when the keeper is called into action.
According to Jacob, junior MaryBeth Spoehr snuffed out whatever chances UWGB managed to put together with a clinic of angles and situational awareness Sunday.
With the GLIAC season just getting under way, the Huskies will be tough to dethrone with a high-intensity defense and in-form keeper at the back.
“MB had a phenomenal game,” Jacob said. “She made a couple of great saves that really took the wind from (Green Bay). You could see it gave our girls energy and sapped theirs a bit.”
Tech has already hung a 5-0 beating on Northern this season in a non-conference matchup just over two weeks ago.
That gives the Huskies a three-match win streak over the Wildcats, by a combined 12-0 margin of victory.
Once again, Jacob said the key will be to press for a goal early to prevent Northern from building any confidence that they can hang with Tech.
“The last couple we have kind of jumped on them early and gotten a goal right away,” Jacob said. “You can just see the effect it has on both teams.”