OXFORD, Ohio - Riding its longest winning streak since 2002, the Miami University women's soccer team takes its perfect Mid-American Conference record on the road this weekend facing tough tests at Northern Illinois Friday and at Toledo Sunday. Kickoff Friday is set for 4 p.m. ET (3 p.m. local) while Sunday's match starts at 1 p.m. ET.
The RedHawks enter the weekend ranked seventh in the NSCAA Great Lakes Region Poll, their highest ranking of the year, up two spots from last week, and best regional ranking since 2002. They are one of just two MAC teams ranked in the region (Central Michigan is No. 10) while the rest of the poll consists of Big Ten teams.
Miami (12-2-0, 6-0-0 MAC) sits in first place in the MAC by itself with 18 points, three ahead of CMU (5-1-0 MAC), who leads the West Division, while the 'Hawks lead the East Division by eight points over Kent State (3-2-1 MAC). Miami's 6-0 MAC start matches its best league start in program history, also doing so in 2002, however the RedHawks have never started 7-0 in MAC play.
A pair of wins at home last weekend extended Miami's win streak to a season-long seven games, tying the longest win streak in program history, which has happened multiple times. The 2002 team had a 12-game unbeaten streak that included one tie, however. Last Friday, the RedHawks blanked Western Michigan, 3-0. Junior Kayla Zakrzewski (London, Ont.) had a hand in all three goals, assisting on the first two before scoring herself. Freshman Morgan Beck (Cincinnati, Ohio) scored her first career goal in the win as well.
On Sunday, Miami pulled out a back-and-forth 4-3 victory over Eastern Michigan. Sophomore Kelsey Dinges (Smithton, Ill.) tallied two goals while senior captain Jess Kodiak (Naperville, Ill.) dished out two assists to help the 'Hawks overcome an early one-goal deficit. After letting a 3-1 lead slip away in the second half, Zakrzewski came up huge again, scoring the game-winning goal in the 85th minute, less than a minute after the Eagles had pulled level at three. She was named MAC Offensive Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks for her efforts.
Offensively, Miami leads the MAC scoring 2.93 goals per game, which ranks sixth nationally. The RedHawks have scored at least four goals in a match seven times this year. Kodiak leads the team with 22 points on the year, which is second in the MAC, while she is tied with Dinges for the team lead in goals with eight, which also ties for second in the MAC. Zakrzewski leads the MAC and is tied for seventh nationally with eight assists, which is one shy of tying the school's single-season record. She is second on the team with 20 points while freshman Haley Walter (Cincinnati, Ohio) has seven assists, tying for second in the MAC, and 19 points. In all, five RedHawks have at least five goals and 15 points, all of whom rank in the top 10 in the MAC.
Defensively, the RedHawks are second in the MAC with a 0.84 goals-against average. Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Allison Norenberg (Palatine, Ill.) has started every game in net, playing all but 50 minutes in goal this year. She has pitched five shutouts herself while combining for two more as Miami's seven clean sheets tie for the league lead. Norenberg's 0.88 GAA is fifth in the MAC while she has a .755 save percentage. Miami has allowed more than one goal in a match just three times this year with EMU's three goals the most the 'Hawks have allowed all year. The RedHawks have given up a total of 12 goals all season, including just six in MAC play.
Northern Illinois (6-5-2, 2-2-2 MAC) enters the weekend in fifth place in the MAC West and is clinging to a MAC Tournament berth. The Huskies split their matches at home last weekend, topping Bowling Green, 2-1, before falling to Central Michigan by the same score in overtime. NIU leads the MAC defensively, the lone team ahead of Miami, as the Huskies have a 0.81 GAA. Keeper Amy Carr has started 12 of 13 games and has a 0.77 GAA, which is second in the MAC, as are her five shutouts. Offensively, NIU is sixth in the MAC averaging 1.15 goals per game, led by Cari Frankenberg, who has team bests of four goals, four assists and 12 points.
The RedHawks are 10-4-1 all-time against Northern Illinois, winning last year's meeting in Oxford, 3-0. Miami has won four of the last five in the series, with its last win in DeKalb coming in 2008.
Toledo (5-8-1, 3-2-1 MAC), who hosts Ball State Friday before welcoming Miami Sunday, is just ahead of NIU in fourth in the West Division. The Rockets have won three of their last four matches with the lone loss a 2-0 defeat to CMU last Friday. UT rebounded with a 3-0 shutout of Bowling Green Sunday, however. Toledo is tied for eighth in the MAC averaging just a goal per game, led by Rachel MacLeod, who has team highs of three goals and eight points while her two assists share the team lead. Defensively, the Rockets are 10th in the MAC with a 1.25 GAA. Kelsey Borowitz has started 11 games in goal for Toledo and has a 1.47 GAA with three shutouts while Sam Tiongson has a 0.82 GAA in seven games, including three starts in goal.
Miami is just 5-11-1 all-time against the Rockets, losing each of the last two meetings and six of the last seven contests between the teams. Toledo beat the 'Hawks in Oxford 3-0 last year while Miami hasn't won in Toledo since 2002 while playing to an overtime draw at UT in 2006.
Live stats will be available for both matches this weekend on MURedHawks.com while live streaming video is available for Friday's match at NIU for a fee (through NIU).
Following this weekend's road trip, Miami remains on the road next Friday, Oct. 19, playing at Central Michigan in a battle of division leaders before returning home to host Bowling Green Sunday, Oct. 21.