OXFORD, Ohio – Scoring big goals is becoming old hat for Kelsey Dinges.
Dinges’ goal in the 62nd minute snapped a 2-2 tie and lifted the Miami soccer team to a 3-2 victory over Illinois State at Miami Soccer Field on Sunday afternoon. That win capped the Senior Day festivities where Dinges, Olivia Evans, Hailey Pleshakov, Danielle Wiseman and Courtney Zanotti were honored before kickoff.
“What a great way to honor our senior class with a win like this against a quality opponent,” head coach Bobby Kramig said. “It’s hard to be a division I athlete in any sport for one year. The fact that they h ave done it for four and produce like they have says great things about them, their commitment and their willingness to work hard.”
The win is Miami’s (6-1) fourth-straight and Dinges has netted the game-winning goal in each victory during that stretch.
The Redbirds (6-4) got the first good opportunity of the afternoon when Rachel Tejada was fed coming up the left side. Her shot was stopped by a leaping Wiseman, who then recovered to turn away Dagny Olson’s rebound at the other side to keep it scoreless early on.
Miami got on the board in the eighth minute after Maggie Scott forced a turnover near midfield and played Rachel Marble into the attacking box. Marble won a footrace to the ball at the right side, moved into the middle and buried her first goal of the season to put the Red and White ahead 1-0.
Play bogged down at midfield for the next 20 minutes as neither team could create much speed on the attack. The Redbirds nearly tied it up in the 23rd minute, however, when Tejada’s blast from 40 yards out dipped down and rang off the crossbar. The ball stayed in play, but MU was able to clear and prevent any damage.
Miami added to its lead in the 33rd minute when Scott scored her first goal of the season when she moved down the right side after being played in by Jenna Weiner. That tally gave the RedHawks a 2-0 lead entering the break. Miami held a slight 5-4 edge in shots in the first 45 minutes.
The Redbirds came back with a flurry to start the second half. In the 52nd minute, Tejada took advantage of a feed by Ali Farkos that deflected off a defender and right to her at the left side. She beat Wiseman to the far post for her seventh goal of the season, cutting the RedHawks’ lead to 2-1. ISU evened the score 5:25 later when Hannah Leinert drove wide on a defender down the goal line at the left wing before slipping a shot inside the near post to even the score with 34:04 remaining.
With Illinois State surging, Miami quelled the momentum in the 62nd minute when Dinges launched an absolute cannon from 25 yards out at the left wing. Her shot caught the upper 90 of the right post and slipped in to put the Red and White back on top by a 3-2 margin.
“Kelsey Dinges scored three high quality goals this weekend,” Kramig said. “To take the injury she did on Friday and come back here with a performance like this today speaks volumes of her as a player and an individual.”
As is expected of a three-time defending Missouri Valley Conference champion, Illinois State would not go quietly. With under 17 minutes remaining, a deflected ball found its way to Tejada from 15 yards out at the right side. The NCAA’s active career scoring leader wound up for a blast, but Zanotti sacrificed her body by leaping across and blocking the shot to force it out of bounds. On the ensuing corner kick, Brooke Ksiazek got her head on the feed and flicked a shot that went just over the net, keeping MU’s lead intact. The Redbirds threatened once more when Leinert got free for a low shot in the 86th minute. After an initial save by Wiseman, the ball went past the Miami keeper and sat near the goal line, but the RedHawks recovered to clear it away and preserve the win.
“We saw two pretty good teams that were committed to going forward and playing good soccer today,” Kramig said. “It was a well-played, entertaining game. Illinois State is a fine team, but our kids held in there when it got tough in the first half. We got the lead back and finished very professionally.”
Statistics could not have been much more even on the afternoon as both teams attempted 13 shots, placing five on target. ISU took seven corner kicks while MU had four attempts from the corner. Wiseman picked up her fifth win this season by stopping three of the five shots she faced.
Miami begins Mid-American Conference play against Eastern Michigan on Friday. Opening kickoff at Miami Soccer Field is at 4 p.m.