OXFORD, Ohio – The Miami University field hockey team is putting the closing touches on another spring season, holding its final practices this week. The defending Mid-American Conference champion RedHawks have spent the past month practicing and playing exhibition contests as they begin preparations for the 2013 season in the fall.

“We take advantage of the spring season to keep growing and improving as a team,” said head coach Iñako Puzo. “We had some challenges with the weather and a few injuries, but were able to handle them. The adversity will make us strong for next season.”

Rising senior Jordan Long (Lancaster, Pa.) agrees that they were challenges, but sees that it will benefit the team in the long run.

“During this spring season, our team faced many adversities with injuries and weather,” said Long. “I believe it only made us stronger in the end and closer as a team. We were dedicated all spring to making the most with the given conditions and we really focused on becoming fully committed to our goals as a program.”

The RedHawks played an ambitious schedule over the past month, participating in a spring league that allowed them to face several of the premier teams in the Midwest. Miami had the opportunity face off against MAC rivals Central Michigan and Kent State, along with Indiana, Louisville, Michigan State and Ohio State. Spring games are slightly shorter than the games in the fall, which allowed the RedHawks to play two games during each day of competition.

“During the spring we are working on developing our game style, passing and basic skills in general,” said rising junior Shannon Regan. “Of course we want to win, but the focus is on playing well.”

Rising senior Emily Gruesser added, “A big part of spring is improving individual skills. We've worked a lot on increasing our skill set. Along with that, we've solidified our game structure.”

All of the practice and games have been conducted with the idea of working towards solid play in the fall portion of the season. Miami graduated only two seniors from last season’s team and brings in another talented recruiting class to complement the returning players.

“We've definitely got a target on our back, so we cannot be complacent,” said Gruesser. “A goal for me is that we come out with stronger skills, better fitness and a harder work ethic than ever before. We can't just use our performance last fall as a base level because that’s what other teams will be doing. We need to be better than anyone else's best.”