By Bryan Wills, For The Miami Student
After a tough 1-0 overtime loss to then-No. 6 Stanford University last weekend in California, the Miami University women’s field hockey team looks to get back on track. The RedHawks (3-2) travel to Indiana University (2-3) on Friday and head home to face No. 6 University of Virginia on Sunday.
The ’Hawks sit first in the Mid-American Conference, though they have not played a conference opponent yet. Both MU losses have come against top ten opponents (No. 7 University at Albany and Stanford).
Head coach Inako Puzo said being able to stay pound-for-pound with top-ranked teams is no easy task.
“The whole team deserves credit,” Puzo said. “They play hard and well together.”
Puzo gives much credit to junior goalkeeper Alysa Xavier, who played 16 games in 2014 and led the MAC in goals against average. This year, she has a 0.78 GAA and 26 saves.
“She is one of the oldest members on the team,” Puzo said. “She gives her all in every practice and every game that we go into.”
After totaling five shots combined against IU and UVA in 2014, the Red and White seek to increase their offensive production.
Senior midfielder Bea Dechant could do just that for the ’Hawks. In 2014, Dechant received first team All-Mac honors for the third straight season. She appeared in all 19 games and ranked second on the team in points scored (17).
Junior forward Rachel Stauffer leads the Hoosiers. Stauffer played in 17 games last year and finished the season with a .600 shots on goal percentage. She has two goals and six shots on goal in 2015. The ’Hawks lost 3-2 in an exhibition match against IU on August 29. In their last regular season meeting (September 2014), Indiana shutout Miami 3-0.
Junior midfielder Katie Kelly leads the Cavaliers. Kelly played in all 20 games and scored seven goals during her sophomore season. She has one assist and one shot in 2015. Miami lost 1-0 to the Cavs last season.
Puzo believes it’s great experience for MU to play against talented teams.
“It is great exposure for the players,” Puzo said. “It is great to see how we are able to stick around.”
Friday’s game starts at 3 p.m. in Bloomington, Indiana. The weekend’s second game begins at 12 p.m. in Oxford, Ohio.