Soccer squares off against Belmont in home opener
Published: Thursday, August 29, 2013
Updated: Thursday, August 29, 2013 22:08
After splitting its first two road matches of the season, the Miami University soccer team (1-1-0) will play in front of the home crowd Friday as they take on Belmont University (1-1-0).
An air of familiarity should be present at the match, as these two teams tangled last year in a battle that saw the ’Hawks prevail 2-1 in overtime. Head coach Bobby Kramig said he suspects this year’s matchup won’t be any easier.
“I’m expecting a difficult game this year, just as difficult as it was last year,” Kramig said. “I know Belmont is a tough side to play against. They’re competitive, they’re feisty, they play hard, they’re workers. The thing you always know about Belmont is that they’re always going to show up ready to play.”
Belmont, picked to finish sixth in the Ohio Valley Conference in the coaches’ preseason poll, is coming off of a win against the University of Toledo in the Golden Gopher Tournament hosted by the University of Minnesota. The Bruins are led by senior forward Katie Proud who was second on the team last year with three goals and six points. Manning the net for the Bruins is senior Nicole Berner, who finished last season with a .800 save percentage.
The ’Hawks have been paced this season by senior forward and team captain Katy Dolesh, who leads the team with three points and is tied for the team lead with one goal. Dolesh had not so fond memories of last year’s matchup with Belmont.
“I know last year we kind of had craziness (with the) weather,” Dolesh said. “It was hot and then it was like a monsoon on the field.”
Hopefully the ’Hawks – and their fans – won’t need to bring their galoshes this time around. Coach Kramig said he just hopes the RedHawks will bring their defense to the pitch. The ’Hawks surrendered 18 shots and three goals to Illinois State University in the season opener but rebounded to shut out Valparaiso University in the game the following Sunday.
“(Against ISU) I felt like our timing was off a little bit,” Kramig said. “I felt like we were a little bit tentative and unsure of ourselves, especially with some of the defending that we were doing. So we’ve tried to clarify that a little bit, make it a little less ambiguous what people’s roles are defensively.”
Kramig emphasized the educational value of a tough loss like the RedHawks suffered to ISU in preparing for the match against Belmont.
“They exposed some things that we weren’t doing very well, some things we were doing wrong,” Kramig said. “But you need those games. Those games are absolutely invaluable. (We’re going to take) some of the lessons that we’ve learned from those games and put them into play against Belmont and see if we can do a little bit better.”
Dolesh is confident the ’Hawks can emerge victorious if they attack early and often.
“(We’re) just hoping to come out, kind of like we have in our past couple games and just get goals early,” Dolesh said. “Just score early and keep the pressure on.”
The match is set for 5 p.m. Friday.