KENT, Ohio - In a back-and-forth affair, the Miami University women's soccer team had an answer for Kent State each time it pulled even as the RedHawks earned a hard-fought, 4-2, victory Sunday afternoon at Zoeller Field. With the win, Miami (10-2-0, 4-0-0 Mid-American Conference) picked up its third straight win over the Golden Flashes (6-3-2, 1-2-1 MAC) and extended its win streak to a season-long five games, its longest since a six-game streak in 2010.
The RedHawks' 10 wins this year already surpass their win total from 2011 while the 10-2 record is Miami's best since starting 14-2-0 in 1999. The 4-0 start in league play is Miami's best start since opening 6-0-0 in 2002. The RedHawks also remained perfect on the road at 6-0-0 in 2012, the first time in program history Miami has won its first six games away from home.
"What a battle," an enthusiastic head coach Bobby Kramig said after the game. "It was just a super hard-fought, physical game. I'm very pleased with how our kids responded to not only the difficult conditions and the physicality of the game but also having the lead and being pulled back level twice. We responded so positively on both occasions, I'm really pleased."
The first 20 minutes of the match were mostly controlled by Kent State as the Flashes fired two shots, one of which had to be saved by redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Allison Norenberg (Palatine, Ill.). The RedHawks broke through first however, in the 29th minute when senior captain Jess Kodiak (Naperville, Ill.) tallied her team-leading eighth goal of the year. Junior Kayla Zakrzewski (London, Ont.) set up the play with a cross into the box and freshman Haley Walter (Cincinnati, Ohio) put the initial shot toward goal that was blocked but Kodiak was there to clean up the rebound, putting Miami up 1-0.
The Golden Flashes responded just over eight minutes later, leveling the match on a goal by Hannah Newhouse. Stephanie Haugh and Megan Repas picked up the assists on the play, as Newhouse scored from the right side only a few yards away from goal. The teams went in to the break even at 1-1 with KSU holding a slim, 4-3 edge in shots. Norenberg's save was the only one for either squad in the opening 45 minutes. The Flashes took the only corner kick of the period in the 12th minute.
Sophomore Kelsey Dinges (Smithton, Ill.) regained the lead for the 'Hawks in the 56th minute on a blast from the top of the box that was placed perfectly out of the KSU keeper's reach. Junior Katy Dolesh (Chardon, Ohio) picked up the helper on Dinges' sixth goal of the season. Once more, Kent State returned the favor as Kathrine Beattie logged her first goal of the year seven minutes after Dinges' to make it a 2-2 contest. Jaclyn Dutton earned the assist on the goal.
Miami was not to be outdone Sunday, as the RedHawks kept the pressure on and took a 3-2 lead in the 70th minute. Freshman defender Lauren Kelly (Manhattan, Ill.) recorded her first career goal and point as she cleaned up a loose ball in the box for the eventual game-winner. After a corner kick was sent in, the ball was knocked around and bounced out to Kelly, who slammed it home. Junior Sam Parrish (Noblesville, Ind.) garnered her second career assist on the score.
"Of course how many of those have we had this year that we haven't finished," Kramig joked of the loose ball in the box. "We've been making an issue of it in practice so for her to step up and crack it from maybe six yards out, she nailed it, which is what you have to do on those."
Dolesh then secured the victory with her fourth goal of the season with just over three minutes remaining. She gathered the ball on Miami's side of the field and charged through the midfield, flying past the KSU defense before rocketing the ball upper 90 from just outside the box to close out the 4-2 win.
"Anytime you can come out of here with something, you're pleased," Kramig said of playing in Kent. "Kent's the real deal. They just came flying at us; they're dangerous on restarts and good in the air. It was a physical game and that's not something we've always responded well to but we did today."
Even with the loss, the Golden Flashes outshot Miami, 15-13, and held a 7-4 advantage in corner kicks, including 6-4 in the second stanza. Dolesh led the 'Hawks with four shots while Dutton took five for KSU. Norenberg finished with five saves as did Stephanie Senn for the Flashes, all coming in the final 45 minutes.
"I told the team at halftime, some games just have to be won on courage and character and that certainly what today was all about," Kramig said. "I'm just absolutely delighted with the result and the attitude and effort put in by our team."
Miami returns home next weekend looking to remain unbeaten in MAC play and extend its win streak when it hosts Western Michigan Friday, Oct. 5 and Eastern Michigan Sunday, Oct. 7, which will be Senior Day.