Zakrzewski scores two goals, adds assist as RedHawks win convincingly in home opener
OXFORD, Ohio – Opening its home slate in convincing fashion, the Miami University women’s soccer team showed a complete team effort en route to a 5-0 thumping of Belmont Friday evening at Miami Soccer Field. With the victory, the RedHawks (2-1-0) won their home opener for the seventh straight season while knocking off the Bruins (1-2-0) for the second consecutive year.
Senior midfielder Kayla Zakrzewski spurred the offense, scoring Miami’s first two goals of the match before adding an assist in the second half for a five-point night. The contest was her fourth career multi-goal match. Junior midfielder Kelsey Dinges chipped in three points, assisting on one of Zakrzewski’s scores while adding a goal of her own. Freshman midfielder Taylor Jackson also tallied three points on her first career goal and first career assist.
“Kayla’s Kayla. She’s got to be one of the top two or three players in the Mid-American Conference,” said head coach Bobby Kramig. “It’s about what we would expect from her. She’s a senior this year. She knows exactly what she’s doing out there. She’s very clinical out there and if we can find her one-on-one, God help the other team.”
Senior goalkeeper Allison Norenberg, who needed to make just one save all game to pitch her second straight shutout, became the winningest keeper in Miami history by earning her 31st career win in net Friday, passing Krista Pace (2006-09). Norenberg is also now just two clean sheets away from tying Pace for the Miami career shutouts record of 16, as she now has 14.
Miami set the tone from the start, dominating possession from the opening whistle. As powerful as the RedHawks’ offense was, the defense was just as impressive, not allowing a single Belmont shot the entire first half, while Miami fired nine of its own. The ‘Hawks also earned nine corner kicks in the opening 45 minutes to the Bruins’ none.
“At the start of the game, I thought everything was clicking. The first 15-20 minutes of the game was some of the best soccer we’ve played all year,” Kramig said. “The speed of play was good, passing was good and crisp, people were moving off the ball. That’s what we’ve been working on in practice so it was nice to see those things show up in a game.”
Zakrzewski put Miami on the board in the 23rd minute when she took a pass from junior forward Hailey Pleshakov and ripped a low, line drive from the left side of the box under Belmont goalkeeper Nicole Berner’s arms. Eleven minutes later, Zakrzewski doubled the RedHawks’ lead with her second tally of the night and third of the season. Dinges sent a long pass from near midfield over top of the Bruins defense while Zakrzewski used her speed to run onto the ball and blasted a shot past Berner into the back of the net from 15 yards out on a breakaway.
Berner made six of her seven saves on the night in the opening period to keep Belmont within striking distance, as Miami held a 2-0 lead at the break. It could’ve been 3-0 but Bruin back Elise DeTrude cleared a sliding shot from senior midfielder Katy Dolesh off the goal line that had beaten Berner.
In the second half, the RedHawks showed their depth, as 10 reserves played with each seeing double-digit minutes on the pitch, including the final 10 minutes in which not a single starter was on the field (other than Norenberg). Dinges started the scoring in the second stanza with her second goal of the year. In the 68th minute, Berner sent a long clear up to midfield but Dinges quickly chased it down and immediately booted it back towards goal from 45 yards out. With Berner nearly outside the penalty box after the clear and out of position, Dinges’ shot sailed over Berner’s head and perfectly into the net for a 3-0 Miami lead.
The RedHawks substitutes did not let up, notching the final two goals of the night. In the 76th minute, Zakrzewski set up Jackson with a low pass across the goal mouth, where a wide open Jackson tapped in the ball for her first collegiate goal. Jackson then earned her first assist in the 89th minute when she passed to her classmate, forward Jenna Weiner, in the box where she dribbled around Berner and scored her first career goal, completing the 5-0 victory.
“It’s nice, especially when it’s hot out here like today,” Kramig said of using his bench. “Those are good players we’re putting in the game. Those aren’t just a bunch of kids that aren’t good enough and only play in a five-nil game. We played most of those kids last week when it was one-nil. Depth is going to be a strength of this team and playing a long schedule with a whole bunch of Fridays and Sundays we’re going to need it.”
The Bruins did not record their first shot of the match until the 57th minute, which sailed wide left. Belmont’s best scoring chance came in the 87th minute when Taylor Smith put her foot on a loose ball in the box that trickled by Norenberg, but sophomore back Olivia Horner calmly cleared it from harm’s way. Miami finished with a 15-4 advantage in shots, including 12-2 in shots goal. The RedHawks also totaled 13 corner kicks while conceding just one.
Friday was Miami’s only match of the weekend, as the RedHawks next return to the field Friday, Sept. 6 at IPFW in Fort Wayne, Ind., before returning home to host Louisville on Sunday, Sept. 8.