By Justin Woods, For The Miami Student
Photo by Lauren Olson
After a near perfect start to the season, the Miami University women's soccer team (3-1) finally returns home to face Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne (1-4) Sunday.
Senior defender and team captain Courtney Zanotti is happy with the start the traveling RedHawks have put together but is also ready for the weekend.
"It's always hard to play on the road, so I think we showed a lot of courage going 3-1," Zanotti said. "But we're excited to play at home, have some fans here and show Miami what we have."
The RedHawks opened their 2013 season with a 3-1 record as well but then spiraled into a five-game losing streak. None of last season's early season wins came against schools from power conferences, while this season the 'Hawks have defeated Big Ten, Big East and Atlantic Coastal Conference foes.
"It'll be nice to get home," Miami head coach Bobby Kramig said. "The goal going into every single game is to play a little better than we did last week. We have to continue with that. We want to get better this week."
The only win of the season for IPFW came against Northern Kentucky University, a team that pushed Miami to an exhibition game draw in August. Although IPFW's record does not indicate the RedHawks will face a tremendous challenge this weekend, Kramig said his squad will have to play quality soccer to get a victory.
"IPFW is a tough, hard-nosed, blue-collar team," Kramig said. "They're gonna come right at us the way we went right at Louisville. We need to understand that and we have to respond to it."
It is a particularly special home opener as the RedHawks look to raise money and awareness for the Pam Porter Endowment benefitting the oncology unit at McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital. Porter (Kramig's sister-in-law) was a media relations contact for the Miami soccer program during the 1992 and '93 seasons before passing away of cancer in 2010 at the age of 37.
The fund was started in 2011 and its mission is to assist in providing care, comfort and compassion to patients who are receiving treatment in the hospital's oncology unit and their families. Miami soccer has been involved from the beginning and after each Miami goal Sunday, a bucket will be passed around giving fans the opportunity to help celebrate the goal by donating to the fund.
"If we're fortunate enough to get a goal or two, we would be very grateful if the fans would throw a couple bucks in the bucket and help support McCullough-Hyde oncology," Kramig said.
The team will host a picnic before kickoff for the hospital's current and past cancer patients and their families. The picnic will immediately precede the game, which kicks off at 1 p.m. Sunday at Miami Soccer Field.