RedHawks soar through opening MAC contests
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 01:09
The Miami University soccer team (8-2, 2-0 Mid-American Conference (MAC)) opened conference play on a strong note, capping the weekend home stand with victories over the University of Akron and University at Buffalo.
The RedHawks displayed stifling defense and explosive offensive production in their pre-MAC slate of games, giving up only seven goals in eight games while scoring 23 goals.
The same execution carried over into Miami’s MAC openers, as the Red and White beat the Zips 4-1 Friday and blanked Buffalo 2-0 Sunday.
“We have had a lot of successes, but we still knew these games would be dog fights,” Head Coach Bobby Kramig said. “It’s always important to win home games in the MAC. The competition we have coming up is tough, and playing on the road just adds to that. So, it’s good to get the games at our place.”
The ’Hawks faced two teams that have had their fair share of struggles this year.
Friday’s game featured an Akron squad that had scored only nine goals though eight games and was blanked on the scoreboard twice. However, after a physical first half of play that the Miami coaching staff later said was the best first half the team had played all year, both teams went into the break knotted up at zero.
Miami responded by scoring three goals in a 13 minute period in the second half, similar to the ’Hawks’ performance the previous week against Indiana State University where the team scored three goals within the game’s first 25 minutes.
The first goal came in the 50th minute when freshman forward Katee Wensinger found junior midfielder Kayla Zakrzewski. Zakrzewski got off a resounding shot from the left side of the box that slowly rolled across the line, after Zips’ redshirt sophomore goalie Alex Luevano-Harden got hand on the ball. Three minutes later, Wensigner and Zakrzewski traded roles when Zakrzewski crossed in a pass from the left end line to a wide-open Wensigner, who tapped in the shot from about a yard out. Zakrzewski then doubled up her goals in the 63rd minute, stealing a pass and striking goal from 18 yards out.
This was the second consecutive game Miami had a player record multiple goals, with senior captain Jess Kodiak scoring twice against Indiana State.
The RedHawks’ final goal came in the 69th minute from an assist by sophomore defender Olivia Evans to junior forward Katy Dolesh, with Dolesh dribbling through three Akron defenders to put the game away 4-1.
“I was a little nervous that my first goal wouldn’t make it across the line,” Zakrzewski said. “After I scored my first goal, I was definitely more confident and wanted to stay aggressive, pushing the tempo to put them on their heels.”
Wensinger said the team’s ability to execute the same things in games they work on in practice was key.
“The way I scored my goal off the cross was a good thing to see,” Wensinger said. “When you spend a week working on crosses, it makes it that much better to see it translate onto the field on game day.”
Miami welcomed the Buffalo Bulls 1 p.m. Sunday. The Bulls entered 2-6-1 overall after dropping their first MAC game to Ball State 2-1.
The ’Hawks came out of the gates aggressive on both ends of the field, especially on offense. Sophomore midfielder Kelsey Dinges recorded several early shots, including one just 58 seconds into the match, while Zakrzewski and freshman forward Haley Walter helped push the tempo, keeping consistent pressure on the Bulls’ junior goalie Ainsley Wheldon.
“We stress the first 10 minutes,” Dinges said. “We come out, play hard and we try to put away the first 10 minutes because it really can suck the life out of a team and make our jobs a little easier.”
Miami took the lead 1-0 in the 25th minute on a goal by Walter with the shared assist by Kodiak and Dolesh. Walter’s goal gives her five on the season, as she continues to provide a spark for this young RedHawk squad.