Oct. 31, 2010
OXFORD, Ohio - For the second straight year the Miami University women’s soccer team will be headed to the Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals as the second-seeded and MAC East champion RedHawks topped No. 7 seed Akron, 2-0, Sunday afternoon in a MAC quarterfinal match at Miami Soccer Field. With the win, Miami (13-6-1, 5-4-2 MAC) avenged its overtime loss to Akron (7-11-1, 5-5-1 MAC) during the regular season and also knocked the Zips out of the MAC Tournament in the quarterfinals for the second straight season.
The RedHawks will now play third-seeded Central Michigan on Friday, Nov. 5 in Toledo in one semifinal match-up while the host and top-seeded Rockets will play No. 5 seed Western Michigan in the other semifinal. Miami’s win snapped Akron’s four-game win streak and ended UA’s 2010 campaign.
The ‘Hawks jumped on the Zips from the start, creating chances off the opening whistle. Miami earned four corner kicks and fired four shots in the opening 20 minutes but Akron keeper Michelle Smith handled several of the corners and made a pair of strong saves to keep the game scoreless.
Miami finally broke through in the 29th minute as the Swedish connection delivered for the RedHawks. After a corner gave Miami possession deep in the Akron zone, senior Sara Lund (Malmo, Sweden) was able to dribble through UA defenders into the penalty box where she found junior Sarah Dessfelt (Vellinge, Sweden) open at the top of the box. Dessfelt blasted the ball high and just inside the right post to beat Smith, giving Miami a 1-0 lead. It was her fifth score of 2010 and first career game-winning goal.
“We talked to our kids the last few days, after we knew we were in the quarterfinal, about the difference between playing to win and playing not to lose. I felt like we were a little tentative our last few games, playing not to lose and at this stage of the season you’ve just got to for it because you have nothing to lose,” head coach Bobby Kramig said. “We’re a much better attacking team anyway, so why not play to your strength.”
Neither team would create another chance the remainder of the half, as the Red and White took its lead into the break, holding a 6-4 edge in shots and a 5-2 advantage in corner kicks. Both keepers made a pair of saves in the opening 45 minutes.
Miami continued to keep the pressure on out of halftime, as Smith had to make three saves in the first 10 minutes of the second stanza. The RedHawks then upped their lead to 2-0 58:01 into the contest as freshman Kayla Zakrzewski (London, Ont.) played a perfect through ball that split two Akron defenders and reached the foot of Lund in stride as she was making a run into the box. Lund then waited for Smith to come out and beat her high, drilling the back of the net for her third tally of the year. Zakrzewski picked up her eighth helper of the year on the goal, which ties her for the team lead.
“Sara’s (Lund) always been a big-game player for us. She now has three goals in her last three games (after none until that point), which is absolutely remarkable,” Kramig said. “She’s stepping it up but so is the whole team. I feel like we’re peaking at the right time and we’re playing some of the best soccer we’ve played all year.”
The Zips would manage to get just two shots on target the rest of the contest with Miami freshman goalkeeper Madison Ryan (Marietta, Ga.) having no issues making the saves while the rest of the ‘Hawks wore down Akron and continued to fire at will, totaling 12 shots in the period. Although Miami wouldn’t find the onionbag again, the RedHawks closed out the 2-0 victory convincingly.
For the match, Miami doubled up Akron in shots, 18-9, including 11-4 on goal, while also holding a 6-3 edge in corners. Smith finished with nine saves while Ryan totaled four stops to record her third win of 2010 and first career shutout.
The RedHawks return to the pitch Friday, Nov. 5 when they take on third-seeded Central Michigan at Toledo’s Scott Park in one of two MAC semifinals. CMU beat Miami, 2-0, earlier this year in Oxford. Times are yet to be announced for either semifinal. Check back with MURedHawks.com for information regarding Miami’s semifinal match-up.
“We’ll spend some time watching video of that game (against CMU earlier this year) this week,” Kramig said. “Central Michigan’s a good team. They’re one of those teams that don’t have any obvious weak spots and we’re going to have to play a very good game to beat them but we’re playing well right now and our kids are confident and feeling good. We’re going to go right at them and see what happens.”