OXFORD, Ohio - Junior Katy Dolesh scored in the first half to put the Miami University women's soccer team ahead but Northwestern rallied and tallied the game-winner late to hand the RedHawks a 2-1 defeat Friday evening at Miami Soccer Field. The loss was the first of the year for Miami (2-1-0) while the Wildcats (2-0-0), the first Big Ten team to visit Oxford since 2008, remained unbeaten.
Freshman Haley Walter (Cincinnati, Ohio) nearly put the RedHawks on top very early in the match as she snuck behind the defense down the wing, taking a feed from sophomore Kelsey Dinges (Smithton, Ill.), but her blast in the seventh minute caromed hard off the crossbar. Dolesh (Chardon, Ohio) did put Miami ahead in the 21st minute however, as freshman Jess Bronke (Downers Grove, Ill.) split the defense with a pass up the middle. Dolesh collected the ball and turned, beating charging Wildcat goalkeeper Anna Cassell to her right for the 1-0 lead. The assist was the first point of Bronke's RedHawk career while it was Dolesh's second goal of the season.
Neither side was able to create any great chances the remainder of the half as the teams went into the break with Miami on top, 1-0. Both teams fired five shots in the first 45 minutes but only three of the 10 were on target. The 'Hawks did earn all three corner kicks in the period though.
"I think a lot of the difference was just mentality," head coach Bobby Kramig said of the disparity in the two halves. "Going into halftime with a 1-0 lead, I don't want to say everybody was happy with it, but we were protecting it too much. The goal of a 1-0 lead isn't to defend it; the goal is to build upon it. We just took way too defensive a posture and gave all the momentum to them and two goals was the result."
Just over 10 minutes into the second stanza, Northwestern drew level as Georgia Waddle notched her second score of the campaign on a header at the far post. NU's Natalie Lagunas sent in a corner kick that was cleared right back out to her, where she again crossed the ball into the box. The ball just got over the fingertips of redshirt sophomore keeper Allison Norenberg (Palatine, Ill.) and Waddle was waiting on the back post to make it 1-1. The score was the first goal the 'Hawks had allowed all year.
The Wildcats continued to apply pressure and control the tempo for much of the second half as Miami didn't get its first shot off until 23 minutes into the frame. Cassell made a big stop in the 78th minute as junior Kayla Zakrzewski (London, Ont.) one-timed a cross from senior Jess Kodiak (Naperville, Ill.) but right at the NU netminder.
Northwestern broke the deadlock in the 82nd minute as Waddle sent a long throw-in into the box that was rattled around, but not cleared, before reaching the foot of Niki Sebo, who poked it in for the game-winning tally. The RedHawks had one last chance late as Zakrzewski sent in a cross but Cassell made a sprawling stop to break it up, preventing Dolesh from burying the ball in the open net and the Wildcats held on for the 2-1 victory in the first ever meeting between the teams.
"I think it was a fair result. For 30 minutes of the game we were better than they were. For the rest of the time they were a bit better than we were," Kramig said. "For me, the lesson in this that our kids need to take away is we need to keep doing what we do. When we start getting away from the way that we play and what we're set up to do, we get into trouble."
The Wildcats finished with an 11-9 edge in shots, including 4-3 in shots on goal, and also earned five corner kicks over the last 45 minutes compared to Miami's none. Cassell and Norenberg each finished with two saves.
The RedHawks return to the pitch Sunday as they head north to Wisconsin to face Milwaukee. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. ET, a half hour later than the originally scheduled 1 p.m. start time.