Despite a strong second half display, Miami soccer was unable to avoid defeat at home against Western Michigan on Sunday. The RedHawks fell to 0-12-1 (0-5-0 Mid-American Conference) on the season.
The Broncos from Kalamazoo were dominant early, possessing the ball for long periods of time and making the Red and White work hard to win it back. Senior RedHawk defender Jenny Barr countered Western Michigan’s elusive style of play with several physical tackles.
The Broncos patiently moved the ball around the field until they finally unlocked Miami’s defense with a goal in the 18th minute. The effort was led by a solo run down the left wing from senior defender Alyssa Smith, where she delivered the ball to her namesake — junior midfielder Alyssa Burke — who calmly passed the ball into the bottom-right corner.
For the remainder of the first period, the Broncos continued to play calmly and patiently, however the RedHawks began to take the offensive in the waning minutes of the half.
The break at halftime did not slow their momentum and the ’Hawks came out in the second period with an eye for a goal, and hopes of an equalizer. After being outshot in the first half 7-4, Miami generated the first four shots of the second half, and came close to a goal multiple times through the attack-minded play of junior midfielder Bianca Medancic and senior forward Kat Zalar.
Senior forward Shea van Gassen was used as a substitute, and looked dangerous for much of the second half, testing WMU’s back line on multiple occasions. As the time on the clock dwindled, Miami threw more and more players toward the net, desperate for a goal.
In the 76th minute, senior forward Chloe Knue was slotted through on goal with a brilliant cross from freshman midfielder Soph Spinell, but her shot went just over the net.
Perhaps the RedHawks’ best opportunity came when freshman midfielder Emily Roberts lined up to take a free kick from just outside the Broncos’ penalty area. Her shot looked as if it was going to reach the back of the net, as it rose towards the top right corner of the goal, but Western Michigan’s Redshirt senior goalkeeper Stephanie Heber made an acrobatic save to maintain the visiting side’s lead.
Roberts’ found herself in the starting lineup for only the second time this year, but has proven herself to be one of the RedHawks most dependable options in central midfield.
Miami’s standout junior goalkeeper Patricia Koutoulas once again made incredible saves to keep the RedHawks in the game, but the equalizing goal remained elusive. She finished with six saves on the day, as the game ended with a score of 1-0 in favor of Western Michigan.
Despite the result, it was one of the best halves that Miami has played all season, especially against a talented and composed WMU team.
“I have to give them credit for it, our record is terrible, but they compete like nobody’s business,” head coach Hugh Seyfarth said. “They have no clue what their record is, they go out and compete.”
Miami was without one of its top players, as sophomore midfielder Olivia Winnett was sidelined and on crutches. According to Seyfarth, she will be out for about a week due to a minor knee injury. Winnett has scored two of the RedHawks’ four goals this season, assisting on another.
Miami will take on two more northern opponents at home this weekend, with a Friday match against Central Michigan and a Sunday game against Eastern Michigan. Friday’s game is scheduled to kickoff at 4 p.m, and Sunday’s at 1 p.m. Both will be held at the Miami Soccer Field.