OXFORD, Ohio – With a promising exhibition season in the rear view mirror, the 2014 season is nearly underway for the Miami University soccer team.
On Friday, the RedHawks’ fall campaign begins with a trip to West Lafayette, Indiana for the Boilermaker Challenge Cup. Miami opens the weekend tournament against host Purdue, a contest that kicks off on Friday at 7 p.m. The weekend concludes with a neutral site contest against Butler on Sunday, which starts at 11 a.m.
The RedHawks were tabbed to finish second in the MAC East Division in the league’s preseason coach’s poll. Miami has won the past two MAC East titles, including an overall regular season and MAC Tournament championship in 2012. Eight starters return from last season’s 11-6-4 squad that finished second in the overall league standings with a 7-1-3 MAC record.
MU’s returners include seniors Kelsey Dinges and Courtney Zanotti, who were both Second-Team All-MAC selections last fall. Dinges recorded a team-high 20 points on seven goals and six assists a year ago, which was the second-straight season she earned All-MAC recognition. Zanotti played a team-high 1,928 minutes for a defense that set a school record with 12 shutouts while recording a league-best 0.51 goals against average during MAC play. Other returning starters include 2012 MAC Freshman of the Year Haley Walter, fellow juniors Jess Bronke, Lauren Kelly and Hailey Pleshakov along with sophomores Rachel Marble and Shannon Stearns.
Miami went an unbeaten 1-0-1 during its exhibition slate, topping Radford 1-0 and playing Northern Kentucky to a 1-1 tie. During that stretch, the RedHawks outshot their opponents 40-13 and showcased impressive depth with its 11 newcomers playing extended minutes.
Purdue went 8-10-1 with a 3-8 mark in the Big Ten last fall. The Boilermakers return top scorer Maddy Williams, who posted 26 points on 10 goals and six assists as a freshman in 2013. She is one of six returning starters that Purdue has back in the fold.
Butler is coming off a 2013 campaign that saw it go 11-7-2 overall and 4-5 in the new look Big East Conference. The Bulldogs return eight starters and 22 letter winners, including Sophia Maccagnone and Elise Kotsakis, their top two scorers from a year ago who combined for 44 points on 16 goals and 12 assists in 2013.
Miami is winless (0-2-1) in three all-time meetings against Purdue and holds a 2-4-1 record all-time against Butler.
Live stats will be available for both contests this weekend. Friday’s tilt against Purdue will have a free audio broadcast available. Fans can also watch a video webcast for a fee.