Oct. 23, 2011
OXFORD, Ohio - Despite creating several good scoring opportunities and outshooting Western Michigan, the Miami University women's soccer team was unable to solve Bronco keeper Michelle Watson as WMU used a pair of first-half goals to earn a 2-0 win Sunday afternoon at Miami Soccer Field. Sunday was also Miami's Think Pink game for breast cancer awareness, as the team donned pink jerseys, socks and shoelaces and sold t-shirts to help raise money.
With the loss, the RedHawks (9-8-0, 4-6-0 Mid-American Conference) saw their three-game winning streak snapped and now sit in the eighth and final spot for the upcoming MAC Tournament with one game remaining. Western Michigan (11-7-0, 7-3-0 MAC), meanwhile, won its fourth straight game in the process.
Miami finished with a 23-11 edge in shots but Watson stopped all nine shots on goal to pitch her ninth shutout of the year. The `Hawks were blanked for the fourth time this season. Sophomore Katy Dolesh (South Euclid, Ohio) had a great chance to put Miami up early, as she had a point-blank shot in front of the net in the sixth minute but Watson got her body in front of it for the save.
The Broncos then grabbed the lead in the eighth minute on a goal by Nikolette Rivera. Anina Cicerone fired a shot from just outside the 18-yard box that was blocked by a Miami defender but the rebound went right to Rivera, who ripped a laser into the upper left-hand corner of the goal from 25 yards out, putting WMU on top, 1-0.
The RedHawks kept up the attacking pressure though, earning a pair of corner kicks, the second of which nearly resulted in the equalizer. In the 13th minute, freshman Kelsey Dinges (Smithton, Ill.) sent in a cross right to Dolesh, who headed the ball down to the near post but Watson sprawled out to make a stabbing leg save. Sophomore Kayla Zakrzewski (London, Ont.) then had a good crack at goal in the 21st minute but it hit the crossbar.
WMU tacked on its second goal in the 26th minute when Cicerone found the back of the net for the eighth time this year. Stephanie Skowneski played the ball to Cicerone on the left flank where she dribbled into the 18-yard box and let an arcing shot go that sailed into the far corner of the net over the head of redshirt freshman goalkeeper Allison Norenberg (Palatine, Ill.), making the score 2-0 at halftime.
Miami would not go quietly in the second half, controlling much of the play, including a 15-3 advantage in shots and a 3-1 edge in corner kicks. In the 74th minute, Dolesh nearly completed a spectacular goal, trying to finish a cross from senior Giselle Mangal (Mississauga, Ont.) with a sideways bicycle kick, but the ball just went over the crossbar. Watson again robbed Dolesh in the closing seconds, getting a hand on a shot with Dolesh on a breakaway, as she made her fifth save of the half to close out the 2-0 Bronco victory.
"We did have a lot of chances. I wasn't real thrilled with our first half. I thought our midfield was a bit disorganized and certainly you have to give credit to Western Michigan. That first goal was a heck of a strike," head coach Bobby Kramig said. "We played reasonably well and our kids responded positively in the second half. We were a bit unlucky some of our shots didn't go in but they're not going to go in themselves; somebody's got to put them in."
The `Hawks ended with a 7-6 edge in corner kicks but were also whistled for offsides three times. Dolesh led Miami with six shots, including four on goal, while Dinges, Mangal and junior Jess Kodiak (Naperville, Ill.) each had three shots. Norenberg finished with two saves in net for the RedHawks.
Miami still controls its own destiny to get in the MAC Tournament, which starts Sunday, Oct. 30, but needs to beat Bowling Green to assure itself of a berth. The RedHawks host the Falcons Thursday, Oct. 27 at 3 p.m. at Miami Soccer Field. Miami is just one point ahead of Akron, who rests in ninth place, and could still get in with a tie depending on other results, while a win would put the `Hawks anywhere from eighth to fifth in the standings.
"It's a must win. I wouldn't have it any other way. I love the pressure so bring it on and let's see what happens," Kramig said.