By Justin Woods, For The Miami Student
The Miami University soccer team approaches its second weekend of Mid-American Conference play looking to continue its run toward a third consecutive MAC East Division title. The RedHawks are 7-2 overall and 1-1 in MAC play after defeating Bowling Green State University and losing to Eastern Michigan University last weekend.
Miami head coach Bobby Kramig thinks it won't be easy to be the last team standing in the conference this season, but his team shouldn't be counted out.
"The MAC is gonna be a really tough conference this year," Kramig said. "But I've always believed in this team. We've got good quality kids, we've got smart kids, we've got mature kids, we've got experienced kids."
It will take all of these attributes to take the league this year, especially after suffering an early conference loss. But don't put it past the RedHawks - they played their final 12 games of 2013 without a loss.
The 'Hawks line up against University of Toledo (3-6-1) Friday and take on Central Michigan University (2-7-1) Sunday. The two matches close out Miami's seven-game homestand that followed its season opening four-game road trip.
The UT matchup is favorable for Miami, as it pits Toledo's subpar offense (0.7 goals/game) against a stout RedHawk defense that has managed four shutouts in nine games. The Rockets lost both of their MAC games last weekend.
Central Michigan finds itself in between two of the top programs in the MAC, Western Michigan University and Eastern
Michigan University, but far from their quality. The Chippewas fell to Illinois State University 5-1 earlier this season, the same team Miami defeated in thrilling 3-2 fashion. Like Toledo, CMU has yet to claim a conference victory.
Senior defender and team captain Courtney Zanotti is ready to lead the 'Hawks through conference play with positivity and determination.
"I'm looking forward to the rest of the play in the MAC," Zanotti said. "It's a long stretch. We just gotta show up every single day."
Miami faces Toledo 4 p.m. Friday and Central Michigan 1 p.m. Sunday.
(If you're coming to the games this weekend, don't forget to celebrate RedHawk goals by supporting Miami soccer's season-long fundraiser for the Pam Porter Endowment, which benefits the oncology unit at McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital. Miami soccer has raised over $1,025 for the fund so far this season.)