OXFORD, Ohio – Featuring nine home games, including the likes of Louisville and Purdue, as well as three games against NCAA Tournament teams from last year, the Miami University women’s soccer team’s 2013 schedule was revealed by head coach Bobby Kramig Wednesday. The RedHawks, who are the defending Mid-American Conference regular-season and tournament champions, will play eight non-conference games, four of which come at home, before embarking on their 11-game MAC slate.
“Coming off our success last year, we wanted to really challenge our team this year and I think we’ve done that with a very difficult non-conference schedule. Facing multiple NCAA Tournament teams from last year, as well as teams from the BIG EAST and the Big Ten coming to our place, should really have us well prepared for the rigorous MAC schedule, which is always tough,” Kramig said. “We have a talented group returning and they have the potential to have another special season. I have no doubt they can compete with all the teams on our schedule.”
Before getting the regular season underway, Miami will play its lone exhibition match at local rival Xavier on Saturday, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. in Cincinnati. The RedHawks topped the Musketeers, 3-0, to open the regular season last year and are 3-3 all-time against Xavier during the regular season.
Miami kicks off the 2013 campaign with a tough test at two-time defending Missouri Valley Conference Tournament champion Illinois State on Friday, Aug. 23. The Redbirds fell in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season. The meeting in Normal, Ill. will be the first ever between the teams. The RedHawks then travel to Indiana two days later for a match at Valparaiso, another team Miami will be meeting for the first time in program history. The Crusaders, one of two Horizon League teams on Miami’s docket, are one of four non-conference teams on the schedule to earn at least 10 wins last year.
The following weekend Miami holds its home opener, welcoming Belmont, out of the Ohio Valley Conference, on Friday, Aug. 30 at 5 p.m. in its only game of the weekend. The schools met for the first time last year with the RedHawks edging the Bruins, 2-1, in overtime in Nashville. The following Friday, Sep. 6, Miami returns to Indiana for a contest at IPFW, which was the runner-up in the Summit League Tournament a season ago. The ‘Hawks will be looking to avenge last year’s 1-0 double-overtime loss to the Mastodons in Oxford, which was one of just three losses Miami suffered all season. Last year’s meeting was also the first ever between the teams.
Following the IPFW match, the RedHawks come home to begin a difficult three-game homestand, starting on Sunday, Sep. 8 against BIG EAST foe Louisville. The Cardinals are another 10-win team from last year and went to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2011. Miami is 4-4 all-time against Louisville, but UL has won each of the last four meetings, including the most recent match-up in 2009.
The following weekend, which is Miami Soccer’s Alumni Weekend, Milwaukee (Sep. 13) and Purdue (Sep. 15) come calling in Oxford. The Panthers, who Miami beat in Milwaukee last year in the only previous meeting between the sides, are the five-time defending Horizon League Tournament champions, making the NCAA Tournament each of those years as well. The homestand then wraps up with the Boilermakers, who are the second straight Big Ten team to visit Miami Soccer Field after Northwestern did so last year. The RedHawks are 0-1-1 all-time against Purdue, last meeting in 2004. The Purdue game will also serve as Senior Day.
Miami then concludes non-conference play Sunday, Sep. 22 with a match at former MAC rival Marshall, which is now in Conference USA. The RedHawks are 5-2-0 all-time against the Thundering Herd, having won five straight in the series, including the last meeting in 2004, Marshall’s last year in the MAC.
Conference play begins with a pair of MAC road trips to Akron (Sep. 27) and Buffalo (Sep. 29). Miami then hosts its first MAC games of the year the following weekend, as rival Ohio invades Oxford Friday, Oct. 4, before the RedHawks battle Kent State on Sunday, Oct. 6. The second annual McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital Picnic will be held in conjunction with the Kent State game at 1 p.m.
Miami heads north a week later for a pair of contests at Western Michigan on Oct. 11 and Eastern Michigan on Oct. 13. The RedHawks then return home for their final three home games of the regular season, beginning Friday, Oct. 18 with Northern Illinois. On Sunday, Oct. 20, Miami welcomes Toledo, while Central Michigan comes calling Oct. 25. The Chippewas earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament last year after the ‘Hawks edged CMU in the 2012 MAC Championship game in Oxford.
The RedHawks close out the regular season with two road matches. First up is Bowling Green on Sunday, Oct. 27, before heading to Muncie, Ind. for the regular-season finale at Ball State on Thursday, Oct. 31. Miami will be looking to avenge last year’s tie against the Cardinals, as Ball State was the only team that prevented the RedHawks from a perfect MAC record a season ago (Miami finished 10-0-1).
The top eight teams in the league make the MAC Tournament, which begins with the quarterfinals on Sunday, Nov. 3. The quarterfinals will be held on campus sites with the top four seeds hosting, while the highest remaining seed then hosts the remainder of the tournament the following weekend. The semifinals are set for Nov. 8 with the championship match on Sunday, Nov. 10, as Miami will be looking to defend its title. The winner of the MAC Tournament receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which the RedHawks earned last season. The NCAA Tournament begins Friday, Nov. 15 and runs through Dec. 8 with the College Cup National Championship game in Cary, N.C.
Miami is coming off one of its best seasons in school history and returns all but one player from last year’s team that went 20-3-1 overall, a school record for wins, and 10-0-1 in the MAC to become just the second team in conference history to go unbeaten in league play. The RedHawks won the MAC regular-season crown for just the second time in school history last season and also captured their fourth MAC Tournament title. Miami then knocked off No. 20 Tennessee in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to No. 15 Duke in the second round. Leading the way in 2013 will be a trio of First-Team All-MAC performers in seniors Katy Dolesh and Kayla Zakrzewski and junior Kelsey Dinges, while reigning MAC Freshman of the Year Haley Walter also returns. All four were also tabbed All-Great Lakes Region last year. Dolesh will serve as the team captain in the fall, replacing departed All-American Jess Kodiak, while junior Courtney Zanotti will be the vice-captain.