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Miami drops heartbreaker to NIU

By Justin Woods, For The Miami Student

After 110 minutes of scoreless play, the Miami University soccer team dropped its Mid-American Conference tournament quarterfinal match Sunday to Northern Illinois University in penalty kicks by a 4-3 margin. Miami (14-3-2, 8-2-1 MAC) entered the contest as the No. 2 seed and NIU (6-10-4, 4-4-3 MAC) was the No. 7 seed.

It is the second straight season the RedHawks' MAC tournament run ended on penalty kicks against the Huskies.

"The first thing I have to do is give a lot of credit to Northern Illinois and congratulate them on the result," head coach Bobby Kramig said. "They came out with a very disruptive game plan and we were never able to get in sync."

According to Kramig, NIU's strategy to clear balls out of bounds during Miami's offensive advances threw a wrench in the RedHawks' rhythm.

"I think the ball was out of bounds more than it was in bounds today," Kramig said. "It's a disruptive style of play and we just didn't handle it well enough. They threw something at us that we just couldn't deal with."

Per usual, the RedHawks controlled possession and found plenty of offensive opportunities, leading the Huskies 19-8 in shot attempts. But, after scoring four goals at Ball State University just three days prior, the 'Hawks picked an inopportune time to lose their goal-scoring guile.

"We had more than enough opportunities to win the game in regulation and we had opportunities to win the game in overtime and we didn't do it," Kramig said. "So the fact that it went to penalties, that's on us. We have to take responsibility for the result."

Freshman midfielder Maggie Scott and senior midfielder Kelsey Dinges were the first two RedHawks to take their penalty kicks and Northern Illinois freshman keeper Amy Annala stopped both attempts. Sophomore forward/midfiedler Rachel Marble,

junior defenseman Lauren Kelly and senior defenseman Olivia Evans all buried their kicks, but the RedHawks' tally of three was not enough to match the Huskies' count of four scores against Miami sophomore goalie Vic Maniaci.

"As far as the penalties go, it's a crapshoot," Kramig said. "[We were] very unlucky to miss the first two. I thought they were pretty good penalties. We started off in a hole, rallied back and took it all the way down to the end. It was just a little bit too deep of a hole for us to climb out of."

Even with an impressive non-conference resume and an 8-2-1 MAC record, it appears this early and unexpected exit from the conference tournament leaves Miami on the outside looking in when the NCAA tournament kicks off later this month.

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Seniors Dinges, defenseman Courtney Zanotti, Evans, forward Hailey Pleshakov and goalie Danielle Wiseman wrapped up an illustrious four years that included four winning seasons, two MAC East Division championships, a MAC regular season championship and a MAC tournament title.