Soccer aims for fourth-straight win
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 21:09
The Miami University soccer team has just two games remaining until it opens Mid-American Conference (MAC) play against the University of Akron. The RedHawks sit at 5-1 heading into their final two non-conference games against the Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) Mastodons and the Indiana State University Sycamores.
Miami plays IPFW 5 p.m. Friday in Oxford and will travel to Terre Haute, Ind. to take on Indiana State 1 p.m. Sunday.
Miami has capitalized on opponents’ mistakes thus far and put on an offensive clinic, scoring 19 goals through six games, placing them ninth nationally in offense. The ’Hawks also have posted three shutouts this season, just one behind their 2011 season total.
The RedHawks have a chance to surpass their 2011 total, as they will face two teams that have had their offensive woes this season. Neither team has scored more than two goals all season. Heading into its final two pre-MAC tune-ups, Miami faces two teams looking to get their seasons on the right track.
IPFW is 2-3, having been shutout 1-0 in each loss. The Sycamores are 3-3-1, and have also been shut out in two of their three losses as well.
“I think both games will be difficult,” Head Coach Bobby Kramig said. “IPFW hasn’t scored a lot, but they haven’t given much up either. They defend well, and are a very fundamentally sound team. The same goes for Indiana State.”
Kramig also stressed his team’s need for a stout defensive effort.
“We really have to pressure the ball,” Kramig said. “We can’t sit back and catch their attacks. I think if we defend up the field, it puts us in a much better position to attack and break teams down.”
Senior captain Jess Kodiak likes where the team is mentally and physically priming up for conference play. She also believes a strong defensive effort can carry the team forward.
“I do feel that we need to keep improving with each game,” Kodiak said. “It’s good that we’re winning, but we still have small mistakes to fix with these last two games, because those mistakes in conference play will hurt us a lot more. As far as defense, it is the most important part of the game. That leads to us scoring and taking other teams out of the game.”
One of Miami’s strengths has been its speed on its offensive attack, especially from freshman forward Haley Walter and junior midfielder Kayla Zakrzewski. The two were a key part of the ’Hawks shutout victory over Austin Peay State University, getting past defenders to find open teammates and eventually wearing down the legs and stamina of the Lady Govs.
Kramig touts his team’s speed and quickness, but feels that perfecting other facets of the team identity will take them further this season.
“There aren’t too many secrets in these games,” Kramig said. “I don’t think either team will surprise the others in these next two games. There are ways to defend speed, just like anything else. One of these days, we’re going to run into a team that is set up perfectly to defend that and take that away from us. We can’t afford to be one-dimensional. We need to have a ‘plan B.’ We haven’t had to go to it much, but we’ll be prepared for it when the time comes.”
The team’s youth has also been an integral key to its success this season. Freshman forward/midfielder Haley Walter has scored three goals to go with three assists. Walter has added a spark to the team in critical moments. Freshman forward Katee Wensinger also has an assist and tacked on her first collegiate goal in Miami’s 4-0 victory over Austin Peay.
“Scoring my first goal was unreal,” Wensinger said. “It all happened so fast. I didn’t really have time to think, just react. It was cool to actually contribute to the team, and put in a goal. I’m glad it came from a team effort, instead of my dribbling up the field by myself. I’m definitely ready to score more goals.”
Wensinger also said the team is peaking at the right moment in the season.
“The chemistry of the team is very good right now,” Wensinger said. “We communicate better each game and we have gotten used to each other. Everyone knows what the other can do and it has really shown so far. These last two games will be good for us to build on that strong team bond, then test it out in the MAC.”
With wins in these next two games, Miami would match its all-time best eight game start since the team started 7-1 in 1999.