By Harrison Schwarz, staff writer
The Miami University had been knocked out of its previous two Mid-American Championships via penalty kick losses, but not this time.
The RedHawks stars aligned Sunday when they beat Kent State University 5-3 in penalty kicks after a scoreless draw.
Miami advances to the semifinal round of the MAC tournament and avoids facing top seed Ball State University, who lost 4-3 in penalty kicks to Akron University Sunday.
“We worked all spring on improving on penalty kicks,” head coach Bobby Kramig said. “We were fine with it getting to PKs and we knew we were prepared.”
Kent State began on the offensive with three corner kicks in the first 21 minutes, but none amounted to a scoring chance.
MU found themselves with their best opportunities in the final 20 minutes of the first half with numerous set pieces and shots on goal. Freshman midfielder Korrie Sauder found open space on top of the box and lunched a shot in the 42nd minute, but it was nudged away by KSU freshman goalkeeper Ashleah McDonald.
Miami had six shots to the Golden Flashes’ three, but neither team was able to get a high probability shot on goal.
Kent State had the better first overtime period with four shots to MU’s one. The Flashes also had four more corner kicks than the ’Hawks.
There were three combined shots in the second overtime period before the game went to penalty kicks.
Each team made its first two penalty kicks. Junior defender Dana Miller nailed her penalty kick, giving MU a 3-2 lead, and junior goalie Vic Maniaci came up with a huge save on the Golden Flashes’ third shot.
Junior midfielder Stephanie Dillon and senior defender Katie Mazurek scored the fourth and fifth penalty kicks to give Miami the win.
“I was a little bit nervous,” Maniaci said. “Once [junior midfielder] Rachel [Marble] put in that first goal, I was confident that we were going to win the game. I knew I was going to have to make one good save and after I made that save, I was pretty confident that we were going to secure the win. We were all calm and collected taking our shots.”
Maniaci and the RedHawk defense have been the most reliable part of the team all season MU now has a MAC-leading nine shutouts in eighteen games this year.
Kramig said he has had his team practicing penalty kicks since last spring in preparation for a game like this.
“Rachel Marble went up and drilled the first one home and that was it,” Kramig said. “Vic made a big save when we needed her to and everyone followed up and put their shots away.”
MU plays Akron in the semifinal round Friday in Kalamazoo, Mich. The tournament championship game is Sunday.