By Harrison Schwarz, For The Miami Student
After three straight losses, the Miami University women's soccer team (2-3) looks to right the ship against Rice University (4-1-1) this weekend. MU is experiencing their longest losing streak since 2013.
The losing streak can, in part, be chalked up to an unlucky turn of events. Two of the RedHawks' last three losses came despite the team largely outplaying its opponents. In a 2-0 loss to Valparaiso University on Aug. 28, Miami outshot the Crusaders 15-5. Against Florida International University on Sunday, MU dominated almost the entire second half, but couldn't muster a goal on 10 shots.
The RedHawks are having difficulty scoring goals this season: they've scored six total goals on 61 shots, a goal percentage of 10 percent. MU has scored one or fewer goals in four of their first five games.
Senior forward and captain Haley Walter isn't worried about the team's recent struggles and is focused on her next opponent, Rice University.
"More than anything, it comes down to knowing we all have each other's backs," Walter said. "Making sure we're looking ahead, and not thinking about the past. Rice is the only thing we're worrying about."
MU's schedule may also be a factor in the team's recent slump. Thus far, RedHawk opponents have been non-MAC teams. Head coach Bobby Kramig noted at practice last week it's been the highest strength of schedule Miami has ever faced.
Because slow starts seem to be the team's downfall, Kramig's solution is to come out of the gate faster in the first half.
"I'm most concerned with the slow starts the last two games," Kramig said. "We are doing a couple things to work on that issue. We need to be more consistent. We are a talented group, but we're not playing with the consistency that we need to play with. We are learning and I'm still optimistic about what we can still do."
The Owls will provide stiff competition for the RedHawks. Rice is the reigning Conference USA champion and is coming off a 2-1 win against the University of Arkansas and a 1-1 tie (2 OT) against Southern Methodist University. Rice's only loss came against fifth-ranked Texas A&M University in the opening game of their season.
Regardless of the outcome this weekend, Kramig stands fully behind his team.
"I'm proud of all my players," Kramig said. "I really like this team. I really like the culture the players have brought with them. They have completely embraced the competitive nature of the practices. I'm proud of all of them. I really like this team."
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The match begins at 12 p.m. Sunday in Oxford, Ohio.