Walter scores Miami’s goal in 1-1 draw; RedHawks face Ohio in MAC Quarterfinals
OXFORD, Ohio – History was not meant to be made Thursday afternoon at Miami Soccer Field, as the Miami University women’s soccer was set to cap a perfect Mid-American Conference regular season, but Ball State held strong in playing the RedHawks to a 1-1 double-overtime draw. The tie snaps Miami’s school-record 11-game win streak as the RedHawks finish league play 10-0-1, becoming just the second team in MAC history to go undefeated in league play, joining the 2009 Central Michigan team that went 9-0-2.
The RedHawks (16-2-1), who had already clinched the No. 1 seed in the upcoming MAC Tournament and the regular-season title outright, will face eighth-seeded Ohio in the quarterfinals on Sunday at Miami Soccer Field. The Cardinals (8-6-5, 5-3-3 MAC) finished as the No. 5 seed for the tournament and play at fourth-seeded Kent State Sunday.
Miami had numerous chances to the win match in regulation and in overtime, but the RedHawks could not find the back of the net a second time, despite outshooting Ball State, 20-11, including 6-3 in the extra sessions. The ‘Hawks also had eight corner kicks to the Cardinals’ five.
“I don’t think we brought the energy required to win the game. I thought we lacked a bit of focus and a bit of competitive spirit. Winning games is hard and it takes everything you’ve got and we played about 60-70 percent all day today,” head coach Bobby Kramig said. “We had a couple of moments and certainly we had chances and the goal we gave up was silly but very representative again of a lack of focus.”
The RedHawks started the match well as freshman Haley Walter (Cincinnati, Ohio) scored just 10:38 into the contest to put Miami up, 1-0. After earning a corner kick, senior captain Jess Kodiak (Naperville, Ill.) sent in a perfect cross from the corner that Walter hammered home with her head from just outside the middle of the six-yard box for her eighth goal of the year.
In the 22nd minute, Miami nearly doubled its lead as junior Katy Dolesh (Chardon, Ohio) was able to split the defense after receiving a perfect through ball but her shot sailed high over the crossbar. The Cardinals then pulled even in the 38th minute on a miscue by redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Allison Norenberg (Palatine, Ill.). Alyssa Ables fed the ball up to Morgan Whitfield, who dribbled toward goal from the left flank. She fired from 15 yards with a RedHawk defender on her side but the ball slipped through Norenberg’s hands and over the line to level the game at 1-1.
The two sides went into halftime even with the ‘Hawks taking five shots to BSU’s three. The Cardinals scored on their only shot on goal of the half while Ball State keeper Aubrey Buehler made one save in the first 45 minutes. Miami also earned three corner kicks in the first frame.
As the second half progressed, Miami steadily picked up the intensity, consistently keeping pressure in the Cardinal end of the field. With just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation, the RedHawks had their best chance to break the deadlock as junior Kayla Zakrzewski (London, Ont.) created a 2-on-1 break with Walter. Zakrzewski drew the lone Cardinal defender and dished to Walter, who was open in front of the net, but her blast rose over the crossbar keeping the game tied.
Zakrzewski nearly ended it in the 83rd minute but her shot hit the post. Ball State then had their best chance with three minutes left in regulation as Jasmine Moses sent in a long-range bomb but Norenberg made a diving save and the game went to overtime.
Miami controlled the overtimes for the most part, firing four shots in the first extra session to BSU’s none, but Buehler, who finished with seven stops, made two saves, forcing a second overtime. Norenberg, who totaled four saves, made half of them in the second overtime, including one with just over a minute remaining, to preserve the draw as Miami couldn’t score on either of its shots in the final 10 minutes of overtime.
“I’m not particularly happy with the way we’ve been playing the last two games,” Kramig said. “It’s going to take a bit of refocusing on our part. We’ve worked very hard to get to this point in the season and we’re not walking away from it. I’m confident we still have a lot of good soccer left in us.”
The RedHawks now turn their attention to the MAC Tournament and the eighth-seeded Bobcats, as kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Sunday at Miami Soccer Field. Tickets for the tournament game are $3 for children 18 and under and $5 for adults while all students of MAC institutions get in free with their student ID. Should Miami win Sunday, it would then host the remainder of the MAC Tournament with the semifinals Friday, Nov. 2 and the championship Sunday, Nov. 4.