Miami field hockey took home the Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship for the third time in Kent this weekend after defeating Appalachian State University 6-1 on Friday and Kent State University in overtime 2-1 on Saturday.
MU finishes 11-8 on the year with an undefeated conference record 8-0 after their two victories this weekend. They dominated ASU for the second time this season, outshooting the Mountaineers 18-2 and leading in penalty corners 11-2.
“Our team this year has more heart than I think I’ve ever played on a team with,” senior back Makenna Colby said after the win Friday. “The will to win that we have is incredible, so I think that’s really what drives our confidence on the field.”
Sophomore midfielder Lexi Silver opened scoring less than a minute into the game off an assist from freshman forward/midfielder Lexie Nugent. Ten minutes later, freshman midfielder Neely Lochmoeller scored her third goal of the season, putting MU up 2-0 early. ASU scored their lone goal of the game in the 18th minute of play. After that, it was all Miami.
Silver notched her second goal of the game in the 41st minute of play, followed by freshman midfielder Leonor Berlie’s sixth goal of the season in the 52nd minute.
Up 4-1, the RedHawks weren’t done yet. A minute later, freshman forward Allie Grace Joyner beat the goalkeeper after faking left and putting it away on the right.
To round out the day, junior forward/midfielder Paula Portugal added to her impressive 17-goal season. The remainder of the game ended in an overwhelming performance by the much better MU defense and the ’Hawks finished 6-1.
“I think it was great,” head coach Inako Puzo said. “The team really performed at a high level. We talked before the game –the key was going to be to keep the intensity for the entire game and don’t look at the scoreboard. It doesn’t matter what direction the scoreboard was going, we just had to keep running and keep playing hard and I think they did it.”
Carrying over their momentum, MU took Kent State the distance and then some in a performance not accurately represented by the score. Miami outshot Kent State 9-3 and held the Flashes to zero shots in the second half.
Kent State scored first in the 28th minute to make it 1-0, which would remain the score for almost 20 minutes until junior midfielder/back Avery Sturm scored off an indirect pass from Portugal.
Portugal had her 18th goal of the season called back after a review in the 49th minute. The RedHawks didn’t let this dissuade them going into overtime.
Portugal eventually got her 18th of the season after receiving a pass from senior midfielder/forward Henni Otten. She took the ball past midfield, into the circle herself and beat the goalkeeper, solidifying MU as the regular season and MAC tournament champions.
“I’m super happy,” Portugal said. “It is amazing — we’ve been working for this all year. It’s just amazing. It was an amazing game by our team. The first half was a little harder, but in the second half we completely dominated.”
Colby was named the Tournament’s MVP, while goalkeeper Maddie Passarella, Sturm, Portugal and Colby were named to the all-tournament team.
“It feels great. It is great to see all of your players happy especially after all the time and effort that they put into practice, on the field and in the classroom,” Puzo said. “I think they value a lot in what they do and they value the process, but everybody enjoys winning and now they’re celebrating, they’re happy, they have smiles on their faces. For a coach, I think this is the biggest reward.”
The RedHawks will travel to Stanford University for the first round of the NCAA tournament on Wednesday, Nov. 8th at 5:00 p.m. This is Miami’s first tournament appearance since 2013 and their fourth in history.