By Harrison Schwarz, Staff Writer
After a scoreless first half, the Miami University women's soccer team dominated in the second, scoring two goals to complete a 2-0 victory over Rice University on Sunday. The RedHawks improved to 3-3 on the season, while Rice fell to 4-3-1.
The win was crucial. MU entered the game on a three-game losing streak.
Head coach Bobby Kramig thought his team came together for the first time this season.
"I thought we played really well," Kramig said. "First time this year that strung two good halves together. The hard work in practice paid off. Two well-created goals too. I really felt like the things we worked on in practice this week, the kids did a great job putting them into play. If we do the things that we're supposed to do and good things will happen."
Sophomore forward Kat Zalar was the difference maker for Miami. After going scoreless since the first game of the season, Zalar delivered both goals in the win.
"We've really been in a slump the last few games so it feels great to just get out there and play our game and put some balls in the back of the net," Zalar said. "We didn't let any in too, so it was great all around."
The game started out slow, as both defenses allowed one shot each in the first 17 minutes. The best early opportunity came in the 10th minute when senior forward Haley Walter led junior forward Rachel Marble into open space on the left side of the box, but Marble's shot went wide.
The Owls' best opportunity in the first half came in the 41st minute when senior forward Lauren Hughes knocked a shot off the crossbar. Despite outshooting the 'Hawks 5-1 in the first half, possession was mostly even between the two teams.
MU delivered the first blow early in the second half when Zalar scored from the top of the 18-yard box in the 52nd minute. Rice's counteroffensive started thereafter and took seven of the next eight shots in the game. However, junior goalkeeper Vic Maniaci's defense proved too strong, and not a single Owl shot reached the back of the net.
Zalar's final goal in the 88th minute, which was set up by a perfect pass from junior midfielder Jenna Weiner, was the nail in the coffin.
Kramig was impressed by his defense's performance.
"I just thought it was a good composed performance by our defenders," Kramig said. "Everyone did their job right. Rice has some very talented individual players up front. They had a lot to deal with, but they kept their cool, they kept their shape, and they came through in the end."
MU continues its season against Florida Gulf Coast University on Friday in Oxford, Ohio and Wright State University on Sunday in Dayton, Ohio.