OXFORD, Ohio - The Miami University field hockey team took a big step towards earning a spot in the upcoming Mid-American Conference tournament with a 4-1 victory over Kent State on Saturday. Valentina Neira scored twice for the RedHawks. Miami improves to 7-7 overall and 2-1 in the MAC. The Golden Flashes fall to 5-9 overall and 1-1 in the MAC.
"This was a big win for our team to keep building our momentum," said head coach Iñako Puzo. "We had a step back last weekend and it was important to get over it quickly. Kent State fought hard like they always do. You know they are going to come here and that this is going to be a tough game."
Miami controlled play throughout the first half, outshooting the Golden Flashes, 11-3. Despite that it was KSU that struck first. In the 26th minute, Rebecca Lee sent a centering pass into the circle. She missed her target, but the ball struck a RedHawk defender and careened into the net. It was scored as an own goal and gave the Golden Flashes a 1-0 lead. The advantage would not last long as five minutes later Olivia Miller would bring the ball into the circle and send a perfect pass to the center of the circle where Emily Gruesser was waiting. Her strike would find the back of the net and send the game into the half tied at one.
The RedHawks would continue to keep up the pressure in the second half. In the 44th minute Alyssa Logan got the ball around midfield and was able to get passed her defender to create a long breakaway. She took the ball all the way to the right corner of the circle, where she then passed it to Neira on the left side for an easy tap-in goal to put Miami in front, 2-1.
About eight minutes later, the RedHawks would make it 3-1 with another nice offensive play. This time Leni Gross would find Bea Dechant in the center of the circle with her hard shot beating the Kent State goalkeeper to her left. The Golden Flashes would press to get back into the game, and Neira took advantage stealing the ball and plugging it in from the left side of the circle to complete Miami's scoring in the 69th minute.
The RedHawks outshot Kent State, 18-8, for the game. Sarah Mueller came up big in goal for Miami; she made five saves, including a kick save off a penalty corner. The Red and White had an 8-4 advantage in penalty corners. Neira and Dechant each had five shots for Miami.
The RedHawks return to non-conference action on Sunday when they host Indiana at 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on Miami All-Access.