Miami’s most successful sports team (in recent years at least) is shooting for its sixth consecutive Mid-American Conference (MAC) title this fall.
Last year, Miami field hockey’s season ended with a heartbreaking loss in the NCAA tournament round of 16. With two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter against No. 2 Michigan, the RedHawks were up 2-1. But the Wolverines did their best Boston University impression and scored two in the final minute of regulation to win it.
But Isabele Perese, Miami’s star senior goalie, thinks that experience was good for the RedHawks.
“It was motivation for this year,” Perese said. “With only a minute more we would have advanced to the elite eight, and that’s really inspiration for this season. We know that we can compete with any team in the country.”
Head Coach Iñako Puzo’s teams are always excellent defensively, and that starts all the way in the back, with Perese.
In 2020, when Perese was the first team All-MAC goaltender, she had her best season so far, saving 75% of shots and allowing just 1.27 goals per game. Last year her stats regressed a bit, but a lot of that can be attributed to just a couple of bad games against North Carolina and Northwestern.
If the RedHawks want to continue their reign of MAC dominance, Perese will have to play a big part. It’s a challenge she’s ready for.
“I’m hoping to help raise the level of competition for everyone this year,” Perese said. “There’s pressure on us as defending champions, but that’s something we’re ready for.
A couple of last year’s most consistent point producers, midfielders Morgan Sturm and Lexi Nugent, graduated. The RedHawks will have to replace their production, but luckily star midfielder Claudia Garcia, who exploded for 18 goals and nine assists as a sophomore in 2021, is back for another year.
Sophomore midfielders Reece Wearren and Carlie Servis could be in line for breakout seasons. The two were tops in shots on goal last year among the team’s role players. On defense, Miami returns excellent seniors Macy Mchale and Madison Workman, plus Jenna Kirby, who immediately looked at home playing division one during her first two seasons.
This team is set up to succeed. An experienced goaltender and defense core, plus a game-breaking player up front in Garcia.
If the RedHawks see just a couple players step up to produce points, there won’t be much that can hold them back from that sixth straight MAC title.