ALLENDALE, Mich. – The Michigan Tech soccer team is on its way to the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament Championship game on the strength of a 1-0 victory over Walsh in the semifinals Friday night at Grand Valley State. The Huskies, who are the number three seed in the tournament, notched the game winning kick in the 74th minute of the match to advance.
"We did a great job moving the ball and controlling the pace of the game," Michigan Tech Head Coach Michelle Jacob said. "Our players did a really good job of keeping their composure and that led to some good opportunities throughout the night. Jaci (Mielke) had an outstanding effort to get us our goal, beating multiple defenders at the top of the box to get the open look at the net. Once we scored, our defense did a great job withstanding some intense pressure applied by the Walsh offense in the final minutes to secure the win. I'd also like to thank all of our great fans who made the trip to support us tonight. They made a difference and we really appreciate them being there to cheer us on."
Michigan Tech (12-3-3) and Walsh (10-6-4) met for the second time this season Friday night after the two teams played to a 0-0 draw back on October 16th. It looked like Friday's semifinal could be headed to extra time until the Huskies recorded the game winning goal late in the second half.
Good goal tending by both keepers played a role in keeping goals at a minimum as Tech junior goalie Kirsen Hudak made her first save of the match in the 8th minute on a blast off the foot of Alexis Meffert. In the 16th minute, Olivia Peters challenged Hudak with a shot on goal, but once again Hudak turned the attempt away to keep it 0-0.
Meanwhile, a few minutes later Tech senior Jaci Mielke made her first strike towards the net only to have goalie Dan Shambaugh secure her first save of the night. Shambaugh went on to make two more saves in the first period when Mielke fired a ball towards the net in the 35th minute followed by a shot from Andrea Zubke in the 36th minute.
Both offenses were very active to start the second half with Hudak and Shambaugh combining to make three saves. The Huskies continued to move the ball forward and in the 74th minute their persistence paid off. Mielke collected the ball in the middle of the Cavaliers defense and with some excellent footwork alluded three defenders to get in position to make the game winning kick. The shot eventually came from 10 feet out to the left of the goal which slipped past Shambaugh for a 1-0 Tech lead. For Mielke, it was her ninth goal of the season and the fifth that decided the outcome of a game.
The Cavaliers made one final push in the 88th minute and Hudak came through with her fifth save of the night. Mielke's shot was the final one taken in the match by the Huskies. Walsh had two others that went wide and high before time expired in the second half.
Mielke paced the offense with five shots and had the only goal for either team in the contest. Four other Tech players had two shots apiece leading to a team total of 13. Hudak played all 90 minutes in goal and picked up her 12 win and 10th shutout of the season. Hudak, who is the GLIAC Goalie of the Year, also added five more saves to her 2016 totals.
Meffert took a team high four shots for the Cavaliers who also ended the night with 13 looks at the net. Shambaugh logged all 90 minutes in front of the goal and made six saves.
Michigan Tech will move on to the championship game Sunday at 1 p.m. and will face top-seeded Grand Valley State. The Huskies lost a hard fought battle to the Lakers at Sherman Field 1-0 on September 25th in the first meeting of the season. GVSU defeated Ohio Dominican 2-0 in the other semifinal match Friday to advance to the title game.
The official GLIAC soccer tournament webpage can be viewed by clicking here.