OXFORD, Ohio – With over a week of training under its belt, the Miami University women’s soccer team tests itself in a pair of exhibition contests this week.
The RedHawks begin their exhibition schedule on Wednesday when they travel to Radford for a 6 p.m. contest. MU then wraps up its preseason slate on Sunday, hosting Northern Kentucky at 5:30 p.m.
Miami is coming off an 11-6-4 2013 campaign that saw it post a 7-1-3 mark in Mid-American Conference competition. The Red and White ended the year on a 12-match unbeaten streak (8-0-4), which ended with a 0-0 tie against Ball State in the MAC Tournament semifinals. The Red and White return eight starters and 11 letter winners from that squad, including Second-Team All-MAC selections Kelsey Dinges and Courtney Zanotti along with 2012 MAC Freshman of the Year Haley Walter.
“I have been impressed with the quality and effort that I’ve seen from all of the players over the past week,” head coach Bobby Kramig said. “This is a talented group and the level of competition in practice is higher than I’ve ever seen it here. However, the next step in our development is to face another competitive program. We’re getting very good at defending and attacking ourselves, everybody knows what everyone else is doing and we’re anxious to try things out against another opponent.”
MU set a school record with 12 shutouts in 2013 and posted a league-leading 0.51 goals against average during MAC play. Over the past two seasons, Miami has an impressive 17-1-4 mark against MAC foes during the regular season, a record that improves to 21-1-5 when including the MAC Tournament.
Radford enters the 2014 campaign looking to continue one of its best stretches in program history. The Highlanders have won the last three regular season Big South titles and made two NCAA Tournament appearances in that span. RU went 15-3-2 overall in 2013, posting a 10-1 mark in conference play before falling in the Big South Tournament finals. The Highlanders are replacing five of their top six scorers and their starting goalkeeper, but do return Britney Kendall, who posted 13 points on five goals and three assists in a reserve role a year ago.
Northern Kentucky went 6-10-2 overall and posted a 2-6-1 mark in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Norse have already played an exhibition tilt, blanking Wright State 4-0 on Aug. 8. While the results weren’t there a year ago, 11 of NKU’s 18 matches were decided by one goal or finished in a tie. Junior forward Casey McMillan led the Norse with 14 points on five goals and four assists a year ago.
“Radford is a good program and we enjoy the opportunity to play there,” Kramig said. “We’re looking forward to the trip. Northern Kentucky will be a nice test for us. Bob Sheahan is a great coach and I know they will show up prepared and ready to compete. I expect that we’ll have to perform well in both games in order to have a chance to win.”
This week’s tilts represent the entirety of MU’s exhibition schedule. Sunday’s match is the only home date for the Red and White until Sept. 7. The regular season begins on Aug. 22 when the RedHawks take on Purdue in the Boilermaker Challenge Cup.