Miami controls its destiny heading into weekend
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012 23:10
The Miami University field hockey team (8-8, 2-1 Mid-American Conference (MAC)) will go on the road for the final time during the regular season. The RedHawks face Ball State University (3-12, 0-4 MAC) noon Saturday and then travel to No. 15 University of Michigan (9-5, 2-2 Big Ten) 1 p.m. Sunday.
Saturday’s game is especially important in the race for the MAC Tournament Nov. 2-3 in Oxford, as only the top four teams in MAC play qualify.
“Ball State has become a huge game for us; it’s extremely important that we beat them and keep sending messages to the other MAC teams that we are not a team to underestimate,” junior forward Emily Gruesser said.
The RedHawks are in a four-way tie for first place with Ohio University, Central Michigan University and Kent State University. Missouri State University is a half game back at 2-2 in MAC play. With victories over Central Michigan and Kent State and a game against Ohio next week, Miami controls its own destiny in terms of seeding.
“This upcoming weekend is huge for our team,” junior midfielder Jordan Long said.
Miami will have to adjust Saturday, as Ball State does not use a watered playing surface. Due to the dry surface, a smoother ball has to be used, which is a focus for the RedHawks in practice this week.
Four players lead Ball State with five goals apiece. The RedHawks have five players with at least five goals, led by senior midfielder Olivia Miller with seven on the season.
The Cardinals are being outscored 2.00-4.73 and are being outshot 9.5-20.7. In comparison, Miami is outscoring opponents 2.50-2.06 and are being outshot 12.6-13.5.
Freshman goalkeeper Maddi Elliot has started 10 games for Ball State and has a 5.49 goals against average and a .636 save percentage. Junior goalkeeper Sarah Mueller has started 12 games for the RedHawks, and has a 2.28 goals against average and a .769 save percentage.
“We are constantly focused on bringing our ‘A’ game with any team we face,” Gruesser said.
Junior forward Rachael Mack leads the Wolverines with 15 goals this season, with sophomore back Leslie Smith and freshman back Aisling Naughton tied for second with six goals.
Michigan is outscoring its own opponents 2.93-1.79 and outshooting them 13.2-11.9. Junior goalkeeper Haley Jones has started all 14 games for the Wolverines and has a 1.74 goals against average and a .775 save percentage.
“Building off last week is crucial to continue our momentum as we close the regular season and head to the MAC Tournament,” Long said.