OXFORD, Ohio - Playing to continue its 2011 season, the Miami University women's soccer team entertains Bowling Green Thursday in the regular-season finale, needing a win to assure itself of a spot in the upcoming Mid-American Conference Tournament. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. at Miami Soccer Field.
The RedHawks (9-8-0, 4-6-0 MAC) currently hold the eighth and final spot in the MAC Tournament, which starts Sunday, Oct. 30, but are just one point ahead of Akron, two points ahead of Eastern Michigan and three ahead of the Falcons. A win would land Miami anywhere from the fifth to eighth seed, but the top four seeds have already been clinched, meaning the `Hawks would be on the road for the quarterfinals Sunday. A tie could get Miami in depending on other results while a loss would eliminate them as Bowling Green would then be tied and hold the tiebreaker with Miami.
Miami enters the BGSU match having won three of its last four games. After topping Ohio and Akron two weekends ago, the RedHawks downed Northern Illinois, 3-0, last Friday as redshirt freshman goalkeeper Allison Norenberg (Palatine, Ill.) pitched her fourth shutout of the year and second straight. Junior Jess Kodiak (Naperville, Ill.) tallied two goals in the match en route to earning MAC Offensive Player of the Week honors. Western Michigan ended the RedHawks' three-game win streak on Sunday however, with a 2-0 defeat, despite Miami controlling much of the contest and outshooting WMU, 23-11.
With her two goals last weekend, Kodiak now leads the MAC in goals with nine and points with 22 while her 1.29 points per game is by far tops in the league. Four of her goals have come in league play, which ties for third, along with sophomore Katy Dolesh (South Euclid, Ohio). Dolesh has seven goals on the year overall, as does classmate Kayla Zakrzewski (London, Ont.), which ties for fifth in the MAC. Senior Giselle Mangal (Mississauga, Ont.) has four assists to lead the RedHawks, as does Kodiak and freshman Hailey Pleshakov (Brighton, Mich.), with all four of Mangal's coming in league play, which ranks second.
As a team, Miami leads the MAC with 1.76 goals per game but are tied for fourth in conference action with 1.20 goals per game. On defense, the RedHawks have posted a 1.27 goals against average, which ranks sixth in the league, but rank eighth in MAC play with a 1.26 GAA. Norenberg has played every minute in net for Miami and sits eighth with her 1.27 GAA and 10th with a .732 save percentage.
Bowling Green (6-13-0, 3-6-0 MAC) comes to Oxford needing a win to have a chance at earning a MAC Tournament berth. The Falcons topped Northern Illinois 2-0 last Sunday but had dropped their previous four games by a combined score of 7-1. BGSU is averaging just 0.74 goals per game, which is second to last in the conference, while compiling a 1.62 GAA overall, which is 10th. In league play the Falcons are also 11th scoring 0.70 goals per game but are ninth with a 1.29 GAA. Alyssa Zuccaro leads BGSU with five goals and 10 points while Sarah VonderBrink has a team-best four assists. Becca Ison has seen most of the time in goal for the Falcons, posting a 1.66 GAA with a .754 save percentage, three clean sheets and a 5-12 record.
Miami is 10-7-0 all-time against Bowling Green, winning each of the last two meetings, including a 4-1 win in Oxford in 2009 and a 5-2 win in Bowling Green last year that clinched the East Division title. Prior to the two-game win streak however, the RedHawks had lost seven in a row to BGSU.
Miami students who attend the soccer game and sign in and sign out at the marketing table will be assured of a wristband for Thursday night's hockey game, which can be claimed at the Goggin Ice Center ticket window.
Live stats will be available for Thursday's game via Gametracker while the contest will also be streamed live on MURedHawks.com through the Miami All-Access subscription package.