OXFORD, Ohio – The Miami University field hockey team got Mid-American Conference play off to a fantastic start with a 7-0 win over Ball State on Friday. The RedHawks improve to 7-6 overall and 1-0 in the MAC. The Cardinals fall to 5-7 overall and 0-2 in the MAC.

Freshman forward Grace Leeker was the star for Miami on Friday, recording a hat trick of three goals. It was part of a dominant offensive effort that saw the RedHawks keep the ball in their attacking zone the majority of the contest. Miami outshot Ball State, 20-5, for the match, keeping the Cardinals without a shot until the 51st minute of the game.

“We put up a good fight today,” said junior midfielder Valentina Neira. “Ball State is a good team, we just had everything working.”

After having several chances early, the RedHawks broke a scoreless tie in the 17th minute. Senior midfielder Jordan Long sent a pass across the entire circle that senior forward Emily Gruesser put her stick on and knocked past the Ball State goalkeeper. Less than four minutes later, Leeker was able to get ahold of a loose ball on the right side of the circle. Her goal gave Miami a 2-0 lead.

The Red and White made it 3-0 going into halftime on a goal by Neira. Neira sent a pass to senior forward Alyssa Logan on the right side of the circle. Logan passed the ball right back to Neira in the middle of the circle, who one-timed it into the net for the goal.

Miami kept the offensive pressure going in the second half. In the 42nd minute, Neira scored her second goal of the game when she tipped in a Long shot. Logan made it 5-0 in the 48th minute when she scored on a breakaway.

Leeker completed the ‘Hawks scoring with a pair of goals. In the 58th minute, she knocked in a pass from senior forward Kaitlin Evans. Leeker got her hat trick in the 66th minute when she tipped in sophomore midfielder Bea Dechant’s shot on a penalty corner.

“We were told today when we want something to go for it,” said Leeker. “We really wanted to start off MAC play strong, so that is what we did.”

Neira led the RedHawks with five shots, while senior goalkeeper Sarah Mueller made four saves in net to earn her second straight shutout. Miami held a 13-0 advantage in penalty corners for the game.

The RedHawks continue MAC play when they take on Missouri State next Saturday.