Soccer hopes to extend winning streak to 8, longest in program history
Published: Friday, October 12, 2012
Updated: Friday, October 12, 2012 17:10
After two wins last weekend, the Miami University soccer team takes its 12-2 (6-0 Mid-American Conference (MAC)) record on the road this weekend to battle Northern Illinois University and the University of Toledo. Miami sits alone atop the MAC East Division with a 2.5 game lead over Kent State University.
The RedHawks are sixth nationally in offense, having scored 41 goals through 14 games. Sophomore midfielder Kelsey Dinges and junior forward Katy Dolesh have been integral in the offensive scheme.
“I think the thing that helped on offense is that [Head Coach] Bobby [Kramig] kept pressing the issue of playing forward,” Dolesh said. “He wants me to run at people with the ball to keep pressure on, and Dinges is great with the outside shot. We work well with each other in the middle and as a team.”
The Huskies, like Western Michigan University, is a physical team with size on their side. Northern Illinois (6-5-2, 2-2-2 MAC) are stout defensively, having giving up 11 goals all season, three fewer than the RedHawks.
“One of the keys for us is that we have to be able to attack teams in a variety of ways,” Kramig said. “We can’t afford to do the same thing over and over again, even if we are really good at it. We’re seeing more and more teams drop their back line away because they’re scared Haley [Walter] and Kayla [Zakrzewski] are going to run behind them. We saw Eastern [Michigan] playing 20-30 yards deep to keep us in front of them. Teams have been taking away the edge as well, and that’s why we’re seeing players like Dinges getting goals. The game has slowed down a little and teams are leaving the middle of the field wide open.”
Defensively, the ’Hawks were tested last week, posting a shutout against Western Michigan but giving up three goals to Eastern Michigan.
“I think we have a lot of things from the Western [Michigan] and Eastern [Michigan] games to take into these next two games,” sophomore defender Courtney Zanotti said. “We showed our courage, being able to push through all the coaches yelling, the disorganization and the pressure the other teams put on us. We’re usually very solid, but we ran up against a challenge, and I think we needed that experience moving forward.”
Sunday’s battle against Toledo will be another physical battle for the RedHawks. Miami is seeking its first win against the Rockets in three years. Toledo (5-8-1, 3-2-1 MAC) also features a strong defense.
“These teams have a very simple, straightforward style of play,” Kramig said. “They’re big and good at winning balls in the middle of the field. We came into the season confident in our athleticism, speed and fitness as a team. We feel really good about our organization as well, but I’m focusing where our heads are. None of the other stuff matters if we don’t show up to compete. These teams are fighters, and that comes first. The other stuff is just icing on the cake; it only makes us better, but we can’t rely on talent alone.”