Kennan Belau, For The Miami Student

The Miami University field hockey team won its Mid-American Conference (MAC) opener Friday, defeating Central Michigan University 4-1.
The RedHawks followed that up with non-conference victories Sunday over Georgetown University and Monday over Saint Francis University. These wins improved Miami’s record to 5-6 and 1-0 in MAC play. The three game winning streak is the longest for the RedHawks since the team’s five game winning streak in 2010.
Friday’s game could not have started out worse for the RedHawks, as they were without Head Coach Iñako Puzo, who left the team Thursday night for family reasons.
“It was raining, it was cold; all of the factors were going against us with Iñako having to go home,” senior midfielder Olivia Miller said.
However, it was Miller who provided the initial spark for the ‘Hawks, scoring an unassisted goal in the eighth minute to put Miami up 1-0. That would be the only goal for either side in the first half, as junior goalkeeper Sarah Mueller made three saves to preserve the one goal lead.
The action opened up in the second half, as sophomore forward Valentina Neira made it 2-0 in the 39th minute. The Chippewas responded when senior midfielder Erin Dye made it 2-1 in the 53rd minute.
The Red and White then quickly answered, as junior midfielder Kaitlin Evans redirected a shot from junior forward Emily Gruesser, increasing Miami’s lead to 3-1. The ‘Hawks added a fourth goal off a penalty corner in the 68th minute when sophomore midfielder Ali Froede scored off of assists from Miller and junior defender Sid Marcum.
Miami was outshot 18-10 and also had five penalty corners compared to Central Michigan’s 10. Mueller finished with nine saves for the RedHawks.
Puzo returned Sunday for the Red and White and Miami scored early and often, producing its best offensive output of the season.
“We did really well with our off ball movement,” junior forward Alyssa Logan said. “We were working on supporting the ball carrier and I think we did really well with that and saw everyone moving.”
Miller once again started the scoring for Miami, scoring off a penalty corner in the third minute, with Marcum recording an assist. The RedHawks added to their lead in the 17th minute as freshman midfielder Bea Dechant launched a beautiful shot from the left side for her first career goal, making the score 2-0. Miami scored two more goals off penalty corners in the first half, as Froede and Gruesser scored in the 19th and 32nd minutes, respectively.
The Hoyas got on the board when freshman midfielder Emily Weinburg scored off a penalty corner as time expired in the first half. However, the RedHawks quickly silenced any hopes of a Georgetown comeback as Neira scored off an assist from Logan in the 38th minute. Miami pushed its lead to 6-1 in the 47th minute as Miller scored her second goal off an assist from freshman midfielder Leni Gross, the first point of her career. Freshman forward Angela Amon finished the scoring with her first career goal in the 64th minute off an assist from Evans.
Miami outshot Georgetown 20-8 and finished with an 18-3 advantage in penalty corners.
Sophomore goalkeeper Christina Heston made her first start of the season for the RedHawks and finished with three saves.
“We were able to manage when to slow down and when to speed up, and that really allowed for a lot of great scoring opportunities,” Miller said.
Miami got off to a quick start Monday against Saint Francis, as the Red Flash committed a foul in the circle in the third minute that resulted in a penalty shot for the RedHawks. Dechant drove home the shot to put Miami up 1-0.
The score remained the same until Miami capitalized on a penalty corner in the 22nd minute. Froede took the initial shot, but it deflected off of Marcum’s stick close to the goal and was tapped in by Evans to put the RedHawks up 2-0.
Miami had a few more scoring chances, but Red Flash senior goalkeeper Kate Vitali make a few kick saves to maintain a 2-0 margin at the end of the first half.
Saint Francis controlled the early portion of the second half, converting a penalty corner in the 44th minute to make it 2-1. Sophomore forward Carissa Makea was credited with the goal and senior midfielder Tia Dudukovich got the assist. The Red Flash added a breakaway goal by sophomore forward Autumn Pellman in the 51st minute to tie the game 2-2.
Miami responded by keeping pressure in the offensive zone taking three shots on Vitali in the following minutes, but were turned away each time. Finally in the 62nd minute Miami was awarded another penalty stroke from a Saint Francis foul, and Dechant converted the game winner, making the final score 3-2.
The RedHawks outshot the Red Flash 16-6 and had a 9-4 edge in penalty corners.
Miami travels to Missouri for two games this weekend. The Red and White play in its second MAC contest 1 p.m. Saturday against Missouri State University and plays Saint Louis University 3 p.m. Sunday.