MUNCIE, Ind. - Facing a must-win situation, the Miami University field hockey team delivered a determined performance in a 7-1 victory over Ball State on Saturday. With the victory, the RedHawks clinched a spot in the upcoming Mid-American Conference Tournament that they will host, Nov. 2-3. Miami improves to 9-8 on the season and 3-1 in the MAC. The Cardinals fall to 3-13 overall and 0-5 in the MAC.
Everybody, starting with the players, worked hard to prepare for this game," said head coach Iñako Puzo. "It's always difficult to come to Muncie, and to get seven goals here is great. But for us to be able to limit their opportunities, especially inside the defensive 25, we have to give a lot of credit to the players for their ability to come here focused and ready for business."
The RedHawks took the action to the Ball State side of the field from the opening whistle. Earning a penalty corner less than a minute into the match, Olivia Miller took two shots that were both saved by the Cardinals' keeper. The second rebound came right to Alyssa Logan, who put it in to get Miami on the board. Less than a minute later, Valentina Neira would score on a shot from five yards out to give the RedHawks a 2-0 lead only 2:10 into the contest.
"I think we set the tone early, and that helped us stay focused for the first 35 minutes of play," said Ali Froede. "We kept competing for a full 70 minutes, and I think that showed our dedication to our goal of winning here."
A penalty corner in the 12th minute would lead to Froede making it 3-0 off a pass from Leni Gross. On the ensuing restart, the RedHawks would quickly earn another penalty corner which resulted in Angela Amon scoring to make it 4-0. Miami would continue to pepper the Cardinals with shots, but they made seven saves before Emily Gruesser scored seventh of the season in the 32nd minute to send the 'Hawks into the break in front, 5-0.
Miami recorded 21 shots in the first half and earned a total of 10 penalty corners.
The RedHawks continued to attack in the second half, finally breaking through in the 58th minute. Logan took a shot that was saved, but the rebound came right back to Sid Marcum. Marcum then plugged it into the empty net for her first goal of the season. Ball State would get on the board in the 63rd minute, but Miami would respond with its final goal 42 seconds later when Bea Dechant scored from five yards out to make it 7-1.
The RedHawks outshot the Cardinals, 34-7 for the game. The 34 shots are the most in a game for Miami in at least the past six seasons. Neira led the 'Hawks with seven shots, while Sarah Mueller made four saves in goal. The Red and White had a 14-2 advantage in penalty corners.
"I think we played really well as a team," said Miller. "We are starting to click and know where each other are on the field; our field awareness is very strong. Our team chemistry is helping us move forward and that's great at this time of the year."
"We did a good job of executing the game plan we had for today," added Logan. "We were able to put into action all of the things we had worked on this week, and that helped pace us for the 70 minutes."
Miami continues on the road when it plays its final non-conference game of the season Sunday when it travels to 15th-ranked Michigan for a 1 p.m. contest.