OXFORD, Ohio - With the non-conference portion of its schedule in the rear-view mirror, the Miami University women's soccer team turns its attention to the Mid-American Conference as the RedHawks begin league play by welcoming Akron Friday and Buffalo Sunday. Kickoff Friday is set for 4 p.m. while Sunday's match starts at 1 p.m. with both games at Miami Soccer Field.
Miami (6-2-0) closed out non-conference competition last weekend, splitting its final two non-league games. The RedHawks fell to IPFW last Friday, 1-0, in double overtime, despite controlling much of the match. Miami outshot the Mastodons, 22-10, and earned 12 corner kicks to IPFW's four, but the Mastodons scored in the 108th minute to steal the win while blanking the RedHawks for the first time all season. The 'Hawks rebounded well however, pitching a 4-0 shutout of their own Sunday at Indiana State. Senior captain Jess Kodiak (Naperville, Ill.) tallied two goals for her second multi-goal game this year as she helped Miami score three goals in the first 25 minutes of the match. Freshmen Haley Walter (Cincinnati, Ohio) continued to contribute with a goal and an assist in the contest.
The RedHawks are looking to atone for last year's MAC season when Miami went 4-6-1 to finish ninth and miss the MAC Tournament for the first time since 2003. Offensively, the 'Hawks are off to a strong start as they lead the MAC averaging 2.88 goals per game this season, which ties for 13th nationally. Kodiak leads the charge with a team-high six goals and a team-best 15 points, both of which are second in the MAC, while her 1.88 points per game is 28th nationally. Walter shares the MAC lead with four assists, is second on the squad and third in the MAC with 12 points and tied for second on the team with four goals, all coming in her last five games. Sophomore Kelsey Dinges (Smithton, Ill.) also has four goals, which ties for fourth in the league with Walter, after notching just two goals all of last year. Junior Kayla Zakrzewski (London, Ont.) and Kodiak each have three helpers on the season.
Defensively, Miami has been nearly as formidable, as the RedHawks also rank first in the MAC in goals-against average at 0.73, allowing just six goals in eight matches. Miami has already pitched four shutouts on the year, matching its season total from 2011 and tying for the league lead. Redshirt sophomore Allison Norenberg (Palatine, Ill.) has started all eight games in goal, pitching two of the shutouts herself while combining for the other two. She has a 0.78 GAA, which is second in the MAC, and a .786 save percentage.
Akron (4-3-0) enters league play coming off a 2-0 loss at home to Marshall on Sunday. The Zips have wins over Morehead State, VCU, Cleveland State and Canisius while also losing to Michigan State and William & Mary. Akron is in the middle of the MAC averaging 1.29 goals per game but is near the bottom of the league with a 1.57 GAA. Megan Waskowski leads the Zips with nine points on team bests of three goals and three assists. Ashley Hughes has a pair of goals and assists each. Akron has used two goalkeepers on the year with Alex Luevano-Harden seeing the majority of the time in net, as she has a 1.08 GAA and an .828 save percentage while going 2-2-0 with both of Akron's clean sheets.
Miami is 7-4-2 all-time against Akron, including a 3-0 victory in Akron last year. The RedHawks have won three of the last four and four of the last six meetings with the Zips. The last time the sides met in Oxford in 2010, they split with the Zips winning during the regular season but the RedHawks won in the MAC Quarterfinals. Miami is 7-6-2 all-time in MAC openers, winning each of the last two years.
Buffalo (2-5-1) opens league play at Ball State Friday before traveling to Oxford to face the 'Hawks Sunday. The Bulls split last weekend at the Niagara Tournament, defeating Robert Morris, 1-0, Friday, before falling to St. Francis (Pa.), 2-1, on Sunday. Buffalo's other win came on Aug. 23 against Canisius, 2-0. UB is tied for 10th in the MAC offensively, averaging just 0.75 goals per game and has six goals all year with Katie Roberts tallying half of them. Defensively, the Bulls are fourth in the MAC with a 0.95 GAA as Ainsley Wheldon has played every second in goal for Buffalo this year and also has a .795 save percentage.
The RedHawks are 12-2-2 all-time against the Bulls, however Buffalo won on its home field last year in overtime, 1-0. Miami has never lost to the Bulls in Oxford though, going 7-0-1.
In addition to the game Sunday, Miami will also be hosting the Pam Porter Memorial Picnic, which will take place during the match next to Miami Soccer Field. The picnic is in memory of head coach Bobby Kramig's sister-in-law, who lost her battle with cancer in 2010. A fund was then established and the money from that fund will be used for the picnic, which is for both past and present oncology patients at McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital and their families. For more information on the picnic, click here.
Both matches this weekend will be streamed live on MURedHawks.com through the Miami All-Access subscription package, as will several of Miami Soccer's home matches in 2012. In all, over 100 home Miami sporting events will be broadcast through Miami All-Access during the 2012-13 season. To purchase Miami All-Access, click here. Live stats will be available for both matches this weekend as well on MURedHawks.com.
Be sure to wear red to Friday's game against the Zips to show your support for Miami as part of "All-In Fridays". "All-In Fridays" is an endeavor to build unity amongst Miami campus faculty, staff and students, the Oxford community and Miami alumni. Fans can also tweet pictures of themselves wearing red to @MiamiRedHawks with the hashtag #AllinFridays or post pictures on Swoop's Facebook page. For more information on "All-In Fridays," click here.
Following this weekend's matches, the RedHawks hit the road for their first road MAC contests, heading east to face rival Ohio on Friday, Sept. 28 before moving north to battle Kent State Sunday, Sept. 30.