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Soccer advances in tournament after OT victory

Senior Staff Writer

Published: Monday, November 12, 2012

Updated: Monday, November 12, 2012 23:11

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Richard Mandimika | The Miami Student

Junior midfielder Kayla Zakrzewski dribbles the ball. The ’Hawks topped the Lady Volunteers Sunday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

In a battle of high-powered offense and defensive prowess, the Miami University soccer team got the better of the University of Tennessee, winning its opening round game in the NCAA Tournament 3-2 in overtime. The game had a flair for the dramatic, as Miami scored the game-tying goal with just nine seconds left in regulation.

Miami has set a new school record for wins with a 20-2-1 record. The team’s unbeaten streak is now at 16 games as well. The RedHawks are now a perfect 10-0-0 away from Oxford this season.

Tennessee came out on the attack early and often, controlling the pace of the game. The Volunteers kept constant pressure on the RedHawks for the majority of the first half. The persistent pressure paid off in the 26th minute, when redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Allison Norenberg gave up a rebound, allowing the goal. As they have done for much of the season, the ’Hawks responded quickly, scoring a minute later. After earning consecutive corner kick opportunities, junior forward Katy Dolesh tied the score with a header from an assist by senior captain Jess Kodiak.

The game remained tied into the half, with Tennessee leading 7-5 in shots.

The second half was a near mirror image of the first half, as the Vols applied heavy offensive pressure on the RedHawks. Miami was unable to get off a shot until after Tennessee fired off six of its own. The ’Hawks found themselves down 2-1 after the sixth shot of the half for Tennessee.

The stingy Tennessee defense continued to stifle Miami, until the 85th minute, when sophomore midfielder Kelsey Dinges struck Miami’s first shot of the second half. Though her shot sailed wide, the RedHawks became energized and organized, as they began to pressure the Tennessee defense.

With just nine seconds left, Dinges found the back of the net from 18 yards out, lofting the ball just over the outstretched arms of Tennessee goalkeeper Julie Eckel. From there, the game went into overtime. Miami was 2-1-1 on the season heading into the overtime period on Sunday.

The Vols were unable to put away the game in overtime, squandering two corner kick opportunities within the first three minutes of extra soccer.

Dinges was able to find junior forward Kayla Zakrzewski running unmarked down the left flank. Zakrzewski made one cut toward the goal and fired a low kick into the right corner. The RedHawks immediately stormed the field in celebration.

“When we went down a goal (in the second half) we made an adjustment in our formation because we were chasing the game,” Head Coach Bobby Kramig said. “The question during the interval between regulation and overtime was do we stick with it and we decided to. There was a certain degree of risk associated with it because we pulled a defender out of the game and to do that when you’re under as much pressure as we were during the game, that is not something to be taken lightly. It was just eating us up all day long, but we’re a MAC school, we’re Miami playing down here at an SEC school in Tennessee, so what do you have to lose. You might as well go for it, so we did.”

Miami could feel the tides turning after the game-tying goal at the end of regulation, picking up intensity in the overtime period.

“I think that we just wanted to keep fighting and didn’t want to run out of time,” Dolesh said. “As soon as the goal went in, we took all the momentum and went forward with it. We had it all going into overtime and we knew we had the greatest chance to score right away.”

Kramig was impressed with his team’s mettle and resiliency throughout a tough game in which his team had its back against the wall for much of the match.

“This team has been built on faith and confidence in each other all year long,” Kramig said. “You live and die with that and that’s what a team’s supposed to be. They never panicked, they never quit and that’s the second time this year Dinges has done that (score in the closing seconds). It was a one-goal game the whole time so there was no reason to stop competing.”

Miami has now notched victories in its last three NCAA Tournament opening round games, winning in 2001 and 2002. This win was the first against a Southeastern Conference [SEC] team.

Miami will now face the 2011 National Championship Runner-Up, Duke University Blue Devils (15-5-2). Duke is the third seed in the region and ranked 15th nationally. This game will pit the youth of Miami against a team that returned all its players from last season’s run. The game is set for 4 p.m. Friday in Charlottesville, Va. at the University of Virginia. The winner of Miami-Duke will face the winner of Virginia-Rutgers University.

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