OXFORD, Ohio – After starting the 2013 season with a pair of road contests last weekend, the Miami University women’s soccer team returns to Oxford for its home opener Friday against Belmont at Miami Soccer Field. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. with the match being the RedHawks’ only game of the weekend.
Miami (1-1-0) split its first two matches of the year, falling to a strong Illinois State team, 3-2, last Friday in Normal, Ill., before rebounding for a 1-0 victory at Valparaiso on Sunday. In the season opener against the Redbirds, the RedHawks struck first on a goal by senior midfielder Kayla Zakrzewski. After ISU scored two unanswered goals to take the lead, fellow senior midfielder Katy Dolesh pulled Miami even with her first goal of the season in the second half, after also assisting on Zakrzewski’s tally. The Redbirds scored the game-winner in the 70th minute however, to hand the ‘Hawks their first season-opening loss since 2009.
Against Valparaiso, Miami used its depth to wear down the Crusaders before junior midfielder Kelsey Dinges scored the match’s only goal on a penalty kick in the 87th minute. Zakrzewski drew the foul in the box that earned the penalty kick and led to the RedHawks’ first win of 2013. Senior goalkeeper Allison Norenberg, who was in net for both contests, earned her 13th career shutout with the clean sheet last Sunday. She now sits just three shutouts shy of tying Krista Pace (2006-09) for the Miami career record, while the victory was Norenberg’s 30th career win in net, tying her with Pace for Miami’s all-time winningest keeper.
Dolesh leads Miami so far this year with three points on her goal and assist, while Zakrzewski and Dinges each have two points with their goal. Dolesh also has taken a team-high eight shots so far on the young campaign.
Despite the season-opening loss, the RedHawks moved up in the latest NSCAA National Poll, gaining one spot from No. 34 to No. 33, as Miami is eighth among “others receiving votes.” Miami, the defending Mid-American Conference champions, was picked to repeat as league champions in the MAC Preseason Coaches Poll.
Miami is 11-4-1 all-time in home openers, having won its home opener each of the last six years dating back to 2007. The RedHawks are 1-0-0 all-time against Belmont, with the teams’ lone meeting coming last year in Nashville. In that contest, Miami pulled out a dramatic, 2-1 victory in overtime in the pouring rain. The Bruins scored first in the opening half before current sophomore midfielder Haley Walter tied the game in the 67th minute. Dinges then won the match for Miami less than three minutes into overtime with a goal on assists from Walter and classmate Jess Bronke.
Belmont comes to Oxford also carrying a 1-1-0 record after splitting its matches opening weekend. The Bruins played in a tournament at the University of Minnesota last weekend, falling to North Dakota State, 2-0 in the season opener, before bouncing back two days later to defeat fellow MAC foe Toledo, 3-2. All of the scoring in the match against the Rockets came in the first 30 minutes, as Belmont jumped out to a 3-1 lead and held on for the win. Senior forward Katie Proud, junior forward Allie Hicks and freshman midfielder Meg Howard scored the goals for the Bruins, all of which came unassisted. Senior goalkeeper Nicole Berner started both matches in net last weekend as she holds a 2.00 goals-against average and a .667 save percentage on the season.
Live stats will be available for Friday’s match on MURedHawks.com. As always, admission is free to Miami Soccer games. Be sure to wear red to the match as part of Miami’s “Wear Red Fridays.”
Following the contest with Belmont, Miami hits the road to Fort Wayne, Ind. for a match at IPFW Friday, Sept. 6 before returning home to host American Athletic Conference foe Louisville on Sunday, Sept. 8.