MARQUETTE - After being held to four goals in its first four contests - all losses - against Northern Michigan University, the young Michigan Tech University women's soccer program has turned the tide significantly against its Upper Peninsula rival.
The Huskies shut out the Wildcats on Thursday for the third straight match, with the 5-0 scoreline becoming a familiar tune for the residents of the NMU Soccer Field.
It's the same score in a 2012 loss by NMU (0-4 overall) to Tech (2-1) in Marquette. The GLIAC regular-season co-champions also won 2-0 in Houghton as part of last season's sweep.
Michigan Tech senior midfielder Lindsey Van Rooy (11) races Northern Michigan freshman forward Paula Hagner (9) to the ball during the first half of a nonconference match on Thursday at the NMU Soccer Field in Marquette. (Journal photo by Matt Wellens)
"We are still trying to learn how to win," NMU head coach Matt Granstrand said. "We had a bad year last year, got (into) some bad habits.
"We've got the talent. Obviously it's something we have to figure out soon, but it seems like we don't have 11 that play at one time."
The Huskies posted two first-half goals on Thursday and three more in the second half of the nonconference match, with the Sept. 28 meeting in Houghton counting in the GLIAC standings.
Findlay 3, Urbana 1
Michigan Tech 5, Northern Michigan 0
Walsh 1, Malone 0
Tech junior forward Alyssa Hynnek beat NMU freshman goalkeeper Caroline Glantz to a loose ball in the penalty box in the third minute for the first Tech score.
Huskies senior midfielder Lindsey Van Rooy then earned her second goal of the season by putting away a pop-up pass from sophomore defender Haley Crites that Glantz again wasn't able to get to in time in the 45th minute.
"I was proud of the way we held our composure in the first half playing into the wind," Tech head coach Michelle Jacob said. "That wind was pretty fierce and we asked the girls to play to their feet and keep the ball on the ground.
"We did a good job. To get that goal early on, it set a tone for us. We were able to continue playing our game, our style, and it worked out."
Tech extended its advantage to 4-0 by scoring off corner kicks in the 48th and 54th minutes.
Glantz was first to the ball off the first of the two corners, but she punched the ball right to Tech junior defender Mackenzie Jordan, who easily one-timed the rebound right into the back of the net.
Six minutes later, unmarked Huskies senior defender Katie Pappas stuck a one-timer top shelf off the cross of MTU senior forward Katie Boardman.
"We've practiced (corner kicks) a little bit, but actually, we haven't done a ton with (corners)," Jacobs said. "Our girls are just eager to attack the ball when it's in there.
"Their placement of the kicks is exactly where we need it. We've got people that are great in the air and Katie Pappas to sneak in there and get one with her foot. She did a great job being in the right position and being there at the right time."
Tech's second corner-kick goal was the only shot Glantz didn't have a chance at saving all game, but it still resulted in her being replaced by fellow true freshman keeper Alexandra Simmons, who gave up a breakaway goal to Huskies freshman midfielder Kathryn Fife in the 83rd minute.
Glantz finished with three saves, as did Simmons. Granstrand said both will start splitting time in goal, beginning with Sunday's noon contest against Bemidji State at the NMU Soccer Field.
"I think we're going to see 50-50 from now on and we'll go from there," Granstrand said.
It doesn't matter much for NMU who is in goal, however, unless the keeper can get some goal support, or any for that matter.
Since losing its 2013 season opener 2-1 at Minnesota Duluth, NMU has been shut out in its last three contests.
In 2012, Northern was shut out 10 times.
"When the year started, it looked like goal scoring wouldn't be an issue," Granstrand said. "Today we struggled on every side of the ball, but we're not combining, we're not finishing.
"I can't seem to find the combination that's effective. We're trying - even today, like every game we've done - different combinations, to try to have some offense.
"I thought our midfield supported the front line more than it ever has this year, which was a big step."