By Harrison Schwarz, Staff Writer
The Miami University women's soccer team plays the University of Akron (3-8) this weekend in the Mid-American Championship semifinal round.
The RedHawks (10-7-2) opened the tournament as the No. 5 seed and beat No. 4 seed Kent State University in the last round. Akron (3-8) pulled off the upset over the No. 1 seed Ball State University. Both Miami and Akron won their matches in penalty kicks.
Head coach Bobby Kramig was confident in his team's ability to do well in penalty kicks because of how much preparation MU has done.
"We worked on it a lot over the spring," Kramig said. "We just worked on our whole approach in taking penalties, both in terms of the shooters and the goalkeeper. I think the net result of that was our kids were very focused and they felt very good about what they were about to do. We felt confident, had a plan, and it paid off well."
In their last meeting on Oct. 25, the 'Hawks beat the Zips 3-0. Akron slipped into the MAC tournament after winning a four-way tie for the 8th seed.
"I think Ball State had a pretty favorable results against Akron in the regular season too, and look what that got them," said Kramig. "It's tournament time and you have to put all that stuff aside. It doesn't matter who you're playing. It doesn't matter where you're playing. You just have to stay focused on what you do. You have to stand by your effort and your attitude."
On paper, Miami's matchup with the Zips is favorable. Akron has been shutout in five of its last seven games and ranks third-to-last in the MAC in goals per game (1.05). The RedHawks rank first in the MAC in goals allowed per game (.63).
The 'Hawks know they can't get too far ahead of themselves, even when they look like clear favorites. Last season, the No. 7 seed Northern Illinois University pulled off a heartbreaking upset over the second-seeded 'Hawks in the first round of the MAC Championship.
Junior goaltender Vic Maniaci said the team is solely focused on Akron and improving the offense.
"We're really focusing on our offense right now," Maniaci said. "That was today's goal. We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We're focusing on what's in front of us and that's Akron."
MU plays Akron at 11 a.m. Friday in Kalamazoo, Michigan. If the 'Hawks win, they will play in the championship game at 1 p.m. Sunday in Kalamazoo.