DeKALB, Ill. - Sophomore Kelsey Dinges scored her second goal of the match with 4.8 seconds left in regulation to break a 2-2 tie and give the Miami University women's soccer team a 3-2 victory over Northern Illinois Friday afternoon at the NIU Soccer Complex. With the win, the RedHawks are off to their best start in the Mid-American Conference in program history at 7-0-0.
Miami remains in first place in the MAC, three points ahead of Central Michigan, and has now won a school-record eight straight matches, breaking the record of seven, which was set in 1999 and 2002. The 'Hawks improved to 13-2-0 overall while Northern Illinois dropped to 6-6-2 overall, including 2-3-2 in the MAC.
"I didn't think we played particularly well today. Northern is a very difficult place to play and a very tough team to play against," head coach Bobby Kramig said. "However, our team showed great resilience and character in overcoming today's challenges and I'm very proud of them for that."
The RedHawks wasted little time jumping in front as junior Katy Dolesh (Chardon, Ohio) tallied her sixth goal of the year just 11:11 into the contest. Freshman Jess Bronke (Downers Grove, Ill.) started the play with a long throw-in that was flicked on by Dinges' (Smithton, Ill.) head to Dolesh, who headed the ball herself into the back of the net from close range.
Miami continued to pressure the Huskies with multiple shots on goal over the next eight minutes, but each time NIU keeper Amy Carr made the save. The 'Hawks finally doubled their lead in the 25th minute when Dinges tallied her first goal of the day. Junior Kayla Zakrzewski (London, Ont.) earned the assist as she set up Dinges' blast from just outside the 18-yard box that landed in the upper corner of the goal. Zakrzewski now has nine assists on the year, tying the school's single-season record.
With time winding down in the opening period, the Huskies cut their deficit in half as Shelbi Johnson scored with just 2:42 left until halftime. Ashley Neubeck picked up the assist that led to Johnson's curling shot from inside the box.
Holding a 2-1 lead at halftime, Miami outshot NIU, 11-7, in the first 45 minutes and earned six corner kicks without conceding one. Carr made five of her six saves in the first frame, keeping the Huksies within striking distance.
The second half was more even than the first and Northern Illinois pulled level in the 67th minute as Nicole Gobbo curled a shot into the top corner of the net, despite facing pressure from Miami's defense. Her unassisted tally completed a two-goal comeback for the Huskies.
The RedHawks were not to be outdone however, as Dinges once again rose to the occasion with time winding down. Miami earned a corner kick in the closing seconds and senior Jess Kodiak (Naperville, Ill.) hustled to send the ball into the mixer, where Dinges soared above the NIU defense to connect with her head. She directed the ball past a sea of Huskie defenders and just beyond the outstretched hands of Carr with less than five seconds on the clock to give the 'Hawks the 3-2 victory. The two goals tie a career high for Dinges, her third time doing so this year, while she now leads the team with 10 goals this season. Her five points are a career high after having a hand in all three goals.
"Kelsey Dinges has been terrific all year. She just keeps getting better and better," Kramig said. "She's playing with such confidence at the moment and deserves her spot at the top of the league scoring table."
Miami finished with a 16-11 advantage in shots, led by four from Zakrzewski, and an 8-1 edge in corner kicks. Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Allison Norenberg (Palatine, Ill.) totaled three saves in the winning effort with two coming in the second stanza.
The RedHawks look to remain perfect in the MAC Sunday when they travel to Toledo for a 1 p.m. match.