The second-seeded Miami University soccer team (11-6-3) combined a crisp offense with a stalwart defense to shutout Northern Illinois University (6-11-3) 3-0 in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) quarterfinals.
With the victory, the RedHawks secured a spot in the league semifinals next weekend. MU will take on the Cardinals of Ball State University (11-6-3) Friday.
Head coach Bobby Kramig said the game exhibited his team playing its best soccer at the most important time of the season.
“It was a comprehensive result,” Kramig said. “Good defending and good attacking. Three big goals and a shutout. I really feel like we’re playing good soccer at the moment. It’s nice to be going into the conference tournament feeling good about the game you’re playing and what you’re doing.”
The ‘Hawks struck first in the 30th minute on a goal by sophomore midfielder Haley Walter. Sophomore midfielder Jess Bronke’s throw-in from the sideline was deflected off the head of senior midfielder Kayla Zakrzewski. Walter cleaned up the deflection and found the net to put MU up 1-0.
Miami scored its second goal just over a minute later when junior forward Kelsey Dinges took a pass from freshman midfielder Jenna Weiner and lasered the ball over the keeper’s head from 20 yards out.
The RedHawks tacked on a third goal when freshman midfielder Rachel Marble found the net in the 51st minute. Freshman forward Taylor Jackson’s corner kick deflected off the front of the goalpost towards Marble who buried it in the back of the net.
Miami finished the game with 12 shots, four of which were on goal. NIU managed only three total shots, two of which were on goal.
Walter said Miami is happy to be advancing to the conference semifinals.
“It’s very exciting,” Walter said. “I think we’re finally coming together as a team … Obviously [in] these games if you don’t play all out then it could be your last. So you just got to leave it all out there, play for each other because we have a great group of seniors and we want to go as far as we can with them.”
For the seniors, it was the last time they played at home. Kramig said it was important for the seniors to earn one last victory in front of the home crowd.
“[I’m] very pleased to send our seniors off last home game with a good result,” Kramig said.
One of those seniors is team captain and forward Katy Dolesh. Dolesh said while she was certainly aware of the fact that it was her last home game, she avoided letting the moment get the better of her.
“It’s hard as a senior you always think about the ‘last kind of thing,'” Dolesh said. “But I can’t dwell on it, kinda [have to] keep playing every game like you have in the past.”
The seniors will have at least one more game before their Miami careers are over. MU takes on Ball State Friday on the campus of Eastern Michigan University.