Soccer picks up 11th win, takes MAC title
Published: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 01:10
Miami University extended its program-record winning streak to 11 games Sunday, clinching the Mid-American Conference (MAC) regular season title for only the second time in program history. The last time the ’Hawks won the regular season MAC Championship was in 2002, when the Red and White won 19 games, the most in Miami history.
The RedHawks (16-2, 10-0 MAC) edged out MAC West power Central Michigan University 1-0 Friday and rallied to bury Bowling Green State University 3-1 Sunday. Miami remains unbeaten in MAC play with only one regular season game left.
Entering Friday’s matchup, the Red and White had lost seven straight to Central Michigan. Although the Chippewas found the back of the net first, an offsides penalty nullified the score. Central Michigan controlled possession to start the second half, keeping Miami’s defense on its heels. Miami was unable to capitalize on its few opportunities, forcing the game into overtime.
“I thought we played well in the first half and I was a little disappointed we didn’t get a goal or a few more good chances,” Head Coach Bobby Kramig said. “However, we settled down and began stringing some passes together to finish the half really well.”
The first overtime ended in a scoreless draw and the two teams headed into second overtime period. Then, just 30 seconds into the new frame, freshman forward Haley Walter found an opening on the right flank, striking the game-winning goal. The goal was Walter’s seventh on the season and first in four games.
“It was a tough game, but we knew we had to keep fighting,” Walter said.
Miami posted its ninth shutout of the season, snapping Central Michigan’s 38-game home win streak.
“I have to give credit to Central Michigan, who is a well-coached and terrifically talented side,” Kramig said. “They tested us like no other team has tested us thus far and I feel very fortunate to have come of this game on top.
The RedHawks regrouped Sunday against a Bowling Green squad that came in at 1-15-1 (0-8-1 MAC).
After a half of sloppy play, the teams entered halftime knotted in a scoreless tie.
Despite halftime adjustments, the Red and White gave up a goal just five minutes into the second half.
“I think the best thing Bowling Green could have done for us was score that goal,” Kramig said. “It woke us up and made us realize that this was a real game and that they were a legitimate, good team that can play.”
In the 70th minute, senior captain Jess Kodiak found a rebound at her feet to tap in the team’s first goal of the day from a yard out. Miami picked up the defensive pressure from that point on, providing the catalyst the team needed to put a barrage of shots on goal for the rest of the game. Three minutes after tying the game, Kodiak headed in her 10th goal of the year on another rebound.
“Being down 1-0 opened our eyes and made us realize that we couldn’t lose a game like that, and throw away everything we’ve done so far,” Kodiak said.
In the 85th minute, when junior forward Katy Dolesh notched a header goal of her own off a Kodiak corner kick.
“I liked the ‘go-for-the-throat’ mentality we had over the last 20 minutes,” Kramig said.
Miami will host Ball State University (BSU) 3 p.m. Thursday in the regular season finale. The Cardinals (8-6-4, 5-3-2 MAC) are looking to rebound after being shut out by Central Michigan in their home season finale. Miami is looking to finish the season undefeated in conference play for the first time in school history.
Thursday’s game will be the final tune-up for the MAC Tournament, which starts Sunday. The RedHawks have locked up home field advantage for the tournament.