OXFORD, Ohio - Coming off a Mid-American Conference regular-season title clinching victory Friday, the Miami University women's soccer team struggled early Sunday against Bowling Green but closed with three goals in the final 20 minutes to earn a 3-1 comeback win over the Falcons at Miami Soccer Field.
With the victory, the RedHawks (16-2-0, 10-0-0 MAC) secured the MAC title outright and became just the fifth team in league history and second in school history to win at least 10 MAC games. The 16 wins are also second-most in program history behind the 2002 team that went 19-3-2 and 11-1-0 in the MAC, winning the program's only other regular-season championship. Miami extended its school-record winning streak to 11 games with the win over the Falcons (1-16-1, 0-9-1 MAC) as well.
Senior Jess Kodiak (Naperville, Ill.) spurred the late-game turnaround tallying a pair of goals while she played a part in all three, finishing with five points in the match. It was her fifth career multi-goal game (third this year) with the two goals equaling her career high. Junior Katy Dolesh (Chardon, Ohio) also played a key role with a goal and an assist in the contest for her third three-point game of the year.
The RedHawks had some chances early in the match with their best opportunity coming from Dolesh with 17:30 remaining in the half. She stole the ball near midfield and dribbled the other way for a breakaway but BGSU keeper Jenna Underwood came way off her line to cut down the angle and make the save. The Falcons then started to generate their own chances, nearly scoring off a free kick with three minutes left in the first frame but redshirt sophomore Allison Norenberg (Palatine, Ill.) was in position for the save.
The teams went to the break scoreless with Miami holding a 10-6 edge in shots. Underwood made five saves in the half to keep the RedHawks off the board.
Just 5:26 into the second stanza, Bowling Green broke through as the Falcons took advantage of a quick restart to take a 1-0 lead. After Miami was whistled for a foul, Amanda Nelson set up for a free kick from 40 yards out and sent in a long cross that Demy Whitaker got on the end of near the far post just a few yards out, where she headed the ball past a diving Norenberg, who got a fingertip on it but not enough to stop it.
"We put so much into that game Friday (at Central Michigan), to do that, then jump on the bus and drive seven hours home. There was so much at stake at the game I suppose a letdown was inevitable. It wasn't unexpected. We talked about it at kick-around this morning," head coach Bobby Kramig said. "It's just one of those things you have to fight through. I think the best thing Bowling Green could have done for us was score that goal because it woke us up a bit."
Shortly after Bowling Green took the lead, Miami turned up the pressure. Dolesh had a header deflected just wide while junior Kayla Zakrzewski (London, Ont.) ran past the defense but her blast was barely saved by Underwood. Miami finally got on the board in the 71st minute when Kodiak cleaned up a rebound to make it 1-1. Sophomore Kelsey Dinges (Smithton, Ill.) sent in a long cross that Dolesh headed off the crossbar but Kodiak was right there for the tap-in.
Just 3:10 later Miami grabbed the lead when Kodiak found the back of the net for the second time on the day. Zakrzewski took the initial shot that again hit the crossbar and bounced back to Kodiak, who headed the ball in herself for another rebound tally and a 2-1 RedHawk lead. The assist was Zakrzewski's 10th of the season, which breaks the school's single-season assists mark of nine, last set by Kersta Carlson in 2009. Kodiak is now tied for the team lead with 10 goals on the year.
Dolesh then capped the three-goal outburst in the 85th minute with her eighth goal of the season. Kodiak sent in a corner kick and Dolesh soared above the Falcon defenders, smashing the ball into the goal with her head to secure the 3-1 win.
"The thing I was most impressed with was not only coming back and responding to the Bowling Green goal and then getting the equalizer and the go-ahead, but the thing I liked was the go-for-the-throat mentality in the last 20 minutes of the game," Kramig said. "When you've got a team down you need to step up and end that game. And I felt like we did that."
Miami finished with a 29-10 shot advantage, including 19-4 in the second half with most of the 19 shots coming in the final 20 minutes of the period. Several of the shots hit the post in addition to the rebounds the 'Hawks scored off the crossbar. Dolesh fired a team-high 11 shots, putting five on target. Miami also earned eight corner kicks in the second half and had 10 in the match to BGSU's three. Underwood totaled 12 saves in defeat while Norenberg ended with three stops.
The RedHawks close out the regular season Thursday, Oct. 25, hosting Ball State at 3 p.m. at Miami Soccer Field as Miami looks to become the first team in MAC history to win every conference game. The RedHawks have secured the No. 1 seed for the upcoming MAC Tournament and will host a quarterfinal game Sunday, Oct. 28. Should Miami win that, it would then host the semifinals and championship the following weekend.