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After a 10-year hiatus, the Miami University soccer team is in the NCAA Tournament

By Win Braswell
On November 8, 2012

As all 26 players and coaches of the Miami University soccer team sit anxiously awaiting the news on where they'll play, the room erupts in cheers and celebration as they are matched up against the University of Tennessee. After a 10-year hiatus, the Miami University soccer team is in the NCAA Tournament. The RedHawks, who stand at 19-2-1 (10-0-1 Mid-American Conference), drew the 19th ranked University of Tennessee Volunteers in a Sunday 2 p.m. matchup in Knoxville, Tenn., after clinching the MAC Tournament Championship. The Volunteers come in with a 14-4-3 record (9-3-1 South Eastern Conference).

Miami comes into the tournament on a 15-game unbeaten streak, the longest in school history. The game will be a test for both squads, as Miami's 10th ranked offense will be pitted against the 13th ranked Tennessee defense that has a .59 percent average for goals given up this season. The Vols are coming into the game having been bounced in the first round of the SEC Tournament by Auburn University on penalty kicks.

"To see all the hard work over the year pay off in an NCAA Tournament berth, we're very excited and pleased with the draw," Head Coach Bobby Kramigsaid. "Tennessee's a great team and they certainly present a great challenge to us, but our kids feel pretty good about what's going on and we're excited to get down there and play."

While Miami boasts an explosive offensive attack, it relies on a stout defensive effort to serve as the catalyst of the offense. The RedHawks have allowed just 19 goals through 22 games this season, including 10 shutouts.

The Volunteers have given up 18 goals on the year, five of them being penalty kicks vs. Auburn.

Miami is 0-3-0 against the only SEC team it has ever faced, the University of Kentucky. Despite that, the `Hawks are undefeated at 9-0-0 on the road this season.

"I think we need to keep doing what we've been doing all season," Senior Captain Jess Kodiak said. "We score goals and our defense keeps getting better and better and more confident. We just need to go out there and keep doing what we do."

One potential challenge is the youth of the RedHawks, who have 10 freshmen on the roster. Heading into the national tournament is a daunting task, especially for the first time.

"One of the interesting things about this team this year is that pressure doesn't seem to bother them," Kramig said. "I don't know if they're that composed or completely oblivious, but I think we have a team of kids, regardless of class, who enjoy the challenge and look forward for the opportunity to rise to the occasion and I would expect nothing less in this game.

In Miami's last trip to the NCAA Tournament, the team made it to the second round before falling 4-0 to the University of Michigan. The RedHawks await the winner of third seeded Duke University and Loyola University Maryland.

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