OXFORD, Ohio – The Miami University women’s soccer team has enjoyed a charmed life over the past two seasons.
Coming off a second-consecutive Mid-American Conference East Division title with a core that made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2012, the RedHawks are back on the pitch to start their preparation for the 2014 season.
The roster of 27 student-athletes reported in Oxford on Tuesday (Aug. 5), reacquainting themselves with returning teammates and getting their 11 freshmen acclimated to the program. Report day consisted of meetings with various facets of Miami’s Intercollegiate Athletics Department, where they were addressed by the compliance, academics, athletic communications, sports medicine and equipment staffs. In the evening, physicals and early fitness testing began.
Wednesday was the first full day of training for the Red and White. After another element of the fitness tests early in the morning, the RedHawks shuffled through several drills supervised by head coach Bobby Kramig, now entering his 32nd overall season at Miami (18th with the women’s program), and his staff. The team ended the day with a full 11-on-11 scrimmage.
“The first day back is always one of the best days of the year for me,” Kramig said. “It’s great to see everyone back, I miss the kids over the summer. It’s great to be back at it and working again. I’m pleased with what I’ve seen so far, especially with the level of fitness. Now we can get after it in training.”
The RedHawks are coming off an 11-6-4 2013 season, one that saw them post a 7-1-3 MAC record to claim their second-straight MAC East crown. MU returns 11 letter winners and eight starters from a squad that finished the year on a 12-match unbeaten streak (8-0-4).
Defense was a calling card for last fall’s RedHawks, as the unit posted a school-record 12 shutouts and led the MAC with a 0.51 goals against average during MAC play. Senior defender Courtney Zanotti is among the returners and was a Second-Team All-MAC selection after leading MU with 1,928 minutes on defense. She serves as the RedHawks’ team captain.
“It’s exciting to get back at it,” Zanotti said. “We’ve been building to this senior year for four years. Everyone is prepared from the seniors to the freshmen. We are ready to go and I think this is going to be a great year. We have a lot to live up to from the last couple years, but we want to push ourselves to be the best we can be and hopefully get another MAC championship.”
As the first fall sport to begin play, the Red and White have exactly one week of training before they get an exhibition test at Radford on Aug. 13. That contest is one of two exhibitions for the RedHawks, with their second one coming at Miami Soccer Field against Northern Kentucky on Aug. 17 at 5:30 p.m. The season officially kicks off on Aug. 22 as Miami takes on Purdue in the Boilermaker Challenge Cup.