VALPARAISO, Ind. – After coming up just short in its season opener Friday, the Miami University women’s soccer team bounced back with a persistent performance Sunday afternoon at Brown Field that was capped by a late penalty kick goal from junior midfielder Kelsey Dinges, lifting the RedHawks to a 1-0 win over Valparaiso. Miami (1-1-0) collected its first win of 2013 with the effort, while handing the Crusaders (1-1-0) their first loss of the season in the first ever meeting between the teams.
Miami came out attacking early, with sophomore midfielder Haley Walter forcing Crusader keeper Kristen Manski to make a save in the second minute. The RedHawks then earned a pair of corners in the first 15 minutes, but were unable to capitalize. Both teams had close-range opportunities throughout the remainder of the half, with Miami senior goalkeeper Allison Norenberg lunging off her line to make a potential game-changing save on a breakaway, keeping the match scoreless at halftime.
After 45 minutes, Valpo held a 4-3 edge in shots, but the two teams each put a pair of shots on goal, as Norenberg and Manski both made two saves. The RedHawks did earn a 3-2 advantage in corner kicks in the first frame.
“I told the team at halftime that we would win this game with our bench and that’s exactly what happened,” head coach Bobby Kramig said. “We were able to keep fresh legs in the game the whole second half and it really made a difference.”
The second half started similar to the first, with Miami again pushing forward. The ‘Hawks drew a free kick four minutes into the second stanza but senior midfielder Katy Dolesh headed the ball just high of the goal. Minutes later, Dolesh was in on a breakaway and her shot from 15 yards out beat Manski but bounced off the left post and away from goal.
The RedHawks showed their depth as the match wore on, applying pressure in the 63rd minute from a pair of freshmen. Forward Jenna Weiner booted a shot high, but Miami earned a corner kick minutes later and Manski had to make a save on rookie midfielder Taylor Jackson’s blast.
Dolesh had a few good looks 10 minutes later, with Manski saving one and stopping another shot from senior midfielder Kayla Zakrzewski. Finally, in the 87th minute, the RedHawks were able to break through. On a counter attack, Zakrzewski received a perfect through ball in the box from freshman midfielder Rachel Marble and was brought down by Manski, earning Miami a penalty kick. Dinges stepped up and confidently buried the kick for her first goal of the season to put the RedHawks on top.
Norenberg, who totaled three saves to earn her 13th career shutout, made one final save in the closing seconds to preserve the 1-0 victory. Miami dominated the second half, outshooting Valparaiso 10-3 over the final 45 minutes while also earning all three corner kicks awarded in the period. For the match, the RedHawks finished with a 13-7 edge in shots and 6-2 edge in corners, but Manski was strong in net, making six saves to keep the Crusaders in the game.
“It was a great team win today,” Kramig said. “Friday’s game (at Illinois State) was very difficult and I knew we were a bit depleted going into the game today. It was also very hot on the artificial surface. I thought our kids showed a lot of composure under tough conditions. The experience and confidence gained last year really showed.”
Miami returns to Oxford next weekend for its home opener, which is its only contest of the weekend. The RedHawks host Belmont on Friday, Aug. 30 at 5 p.m. at Miami Soccer Field. As always, admission is free.