Miami soccer showed signs of life this past weekend, finally returning home from a long stretch of away games. The familiar field clearly gave the team some boosted energy, as they competed well in both conference games.
Entering Friday’s game against defending Mid-American Conference Tournament champions Kent State, the RedHawks’ record was 0-9-0 (0-2-0 in MAC play), though they were motivated to pull off an upset in front of a home crowd.
Miami saw an open door when Kent State senior forward Hayden Pascoe was shown a red card after clashing with RedHawk senior midfielder Amy Malone on the ground. Forced to continue with ten players for the rest of the match, the Golden Flashes still managed to keep the pressure on the Redhawks’ back line, with five shots in the first half.
Kent State grabbed their lone goal via an unstoppable 18-yard strike from freshman forward Isabelle Mihail, and never looked back. The RedHawks looked more threatening in the last 15 minutes of the match, but couldn’t find an equalizer — the game ended 1-0 to the Flashes. It was a tough loss for a team that desperately needed a positive result.
“We created a lot of scoring chances, and created a couple of melees in the box off corner kicks, balls forward,” head coach Hugh Seyfarth said. “We’ve got to just be hungry to score. We just have to have that desire, because we gave ourselves every chance to convert.”
Miami has only scored three goals in 11 games so far this season.
Clearly anxious to start strong, Miami began Sunday’s game against Ohio University on the front foot. RedHawk sophomore midfielder Olivia Winnett was able to test the OU goalkeeper early and often, though a goal remained elusive.
Led by strong defense and quick transitional offense, the ‘Hawks made their presence felt in the first half, and certainly looked the better side at the break, having outshot the Bobcats six to one.
In the second half, Ohio regained momentum and tested the RedHawks’ back line. Taking nine shots in the half, and forcing junior goalkeeper Pat Koutoulas into four saves, the Bobcats tested Miami’s fortitude.
Led by some brilliant goal-saving tackles from sophomore Lydia Brosnahan and senior Jenny Barr, the Miami defense maintained their clean sheet. The match was then sent into the first of two sudden-death overtime periods.
The RedHawks almost had a goal six minutes into the period, when Koutoulas booted a free kick from half field all the way into the opposing keepers’ hands. Junior OU goalkeeper Erin Beurket then fell into her own net, unleashing an eruption of cheers from Miami’s home stands.
However, a foul was quickly called on the home team for interference with the goalkeeper, and the game remained scoreless.
The RedHawks would go on to create more chances, the greatest being a threatening run into the box, followed by a cross blocked by a Bobcat defender. Cries of “handball” echoed throughout the stadium, but the officials ignored the proposal, subduing any hope of a late-match penalty kick.
Neither team found the net in either overtime period, and the game ended 0-0. It was a positive result for the RedHawks, as they picked up their first point in conference play.
During the game, the voice of Pat Koutoulas could be heard throughout the stadium giving direction to her teammates. The junior keeper helped keep the clean sheet, making six saves on the day.
“It’s huge,” Seyfarth said. “And the fact that we’ve put [Koutoulas] in some tough positions this year […] when any team has a tough time scoring goals, it puts that much pressure on your back four, on your goalkeeper, and she was big time today.”
The RedHawks will look to build off Sunday’s performance this Thursday when they travel to Northern Illinois University to take on a team that has lost two straight MAC games. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.