Starting off the season against two ranked opponents in Delaware proved to be a challenge for Miami University field hockey.
However, the RedHawks (0-2) don't mind. They like a challenge.
"We have a solid culture from generation to generation, and we base our sport in that," head coach Iñako Puzo said.
What is this culture, rooted in challenge? Any student at Miami will say it is extremely demanding, both academically and in extracurricular activities. The field hockey team lives that every day.
From success grows expectations, and expectations invite pressure to live up to past successes. This cycle weeds out anyone that isn't ready for that commitment and automatically draws in students and players who are up to the challenge. Now, the roster is full of exceptional athletes, challenge-seekers and talented leaders.
Some of that talent runs through juniors Allie Grace Joyner and Morgan Sturm, as well as redshirt junior Hana Sinno. Joyner currently holds the team-lead with two points. She and Strum combined for 18 in 2018.
Puzo also believes he has a talented core of freshmen, headlined by Madison Workman and Devi Slobbe.
As with any college sport, the four-year graduation rotation provides a familiar challenge. After losing seniors to graduation and welcoming the first-years, this specific team played together for the first time this weekend.
In the offseason, the Redhawks lost Paula Portugal, who finished her Miami career last year ranked second in program history for goals and points. However, Puzo isn't worried. He recognizes field hockey is a team sport and feels his squad has the talent to pick up where Portugal and her fellow graduates left off.
In this way, Puzo is attempting to fit all of the pieces of the puzzle together. He said all of his athletes have been doing great this summer, and they are all putting in the work. He is just finding the way they fit together best.
The culture of challenge-seeking is constant for Miami field hockey. Everything in the process is built by habits. The little things the girls do everyday contribute to the outcome, so Puzo likes to take things one day and one game at a time. It is just one more opportunity to get better. Last week, Puzo's goal for opening weekend was to come out of Albany and finish as a better team.
Miami dropped both games, falling to No. 22 Albany, 2-0, and No. 16 Delaware, 2-1.
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Now, the RedHawks are going to Bloomington, Indiana, to play Indiana University at 3 p.m today. They hope to finish as a better team.