OXFORD, Ohio - Off to its best start since 1999, the Miami University women's soccer team is coming together nicely on and off the field.
The RedHawks (4-1) have defeated Xavier, IUPUI, Milwaukee and Belmont in the early going with their only loss coming against Northwestern.
Even though the team missed the Mid-American Conference Tournament for the first time in eight years last season, finishing with a 9-8-1 overall record, the team isn't surprised by their success.
"We are pretty much right on schedule of where we thought we'd be," said Miami coach Bobby Kramig, who is in his 30th season at Miami, between the men's and women's soccer teams.
One of the main reasons the team has improved is because of its newfound cohesiveness.
"I feel like this year as a team we're much closer," junior defender Sam Parrish said. "The chemistry is a lot better and I think we are a lot more positive this year."
Coach Kramig is also pleased with the team's attitude and character. He said they come to practice on-task and ready to work.
"There's no drama, no nonsense," he said. "They are serious about what they're doing."
A lot of that has to do with the leadership of the upperclassmen.
"Everyone has stepped up," Dolesh said. "I feel like we expected to be somewhat in this position because the preseason went really well and we expected everyone to grow over the summer."
The RedHawks boast a fast, opportunistic team that capitalizes on their chances in front of the goal. They can also attack their opponents in a variety of different ways.
"It's been fun," Kramig said. "A lot of it is getting the mix right and the blend right out on the field."
Adding several young players, including freshmen, into the starting lineup has helped create that right mix.
Walter has been the biggest surprise thus far. She has netted three goals in the last two games, including two second-half scores that helped Miami come back to beat Milwaukee, 4-2.
Mathews, a midfielder, has one goal on the season, while Bronke has tallied two assists. Dinges and Pleshakov have combined for four goals and an assist.
But while the team is on track early on, the RedHawks' ultimate goal is to prepare for their conference games. Miami begins MAC play at home against Akron Friday, Sept. 21.
Kramig says his team still needs to work on its consistency at times, especially on defense.
"What we do defensively is a springboard for our offense," he said.
Next up, the RedHawks host Austin Peay Friday, Sept. 7 in Oxford at 5 p.m.