Miami earns No. 2 seed in upcoming MAC Tournament
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – The Miami University women’s soccer team scored four goals in an eight-minute stretch late in the second half to earn a 5-2 comeback win over Bowling Green Thursday afternoon at windy Cochrane Field and clinched the Mid-American Conference East Division title in doing so. The game served as the regular-season finale for both teams.
With the win, the first by the RedHawks (12-6-2, 5-4-2 MAC) at Bowling Green since 2002, Miami earned the No. 2 seed in the MAC Tournament and will host a MAC Quarterfinal game against seventh-seeded Akron on Sunday. The Falcons failed to make the eight-team MAC Tournament with the loss, ending their season with a 4-12-4 record and 2-6-3 in the MAC.
Miami controlled play from the start, coming out as the aggressors and firing five shots in the opening 16 minutes. BGSU’s Alexa Arsenault saved the two that were on target with excellent stops while two others were blocked by the defense and one sailed wide. The RedHawks also had a goal called back two minutes into the match for offsides.
“We came out great. We were absolutely on fire in the first 20 minutes. It was some of the best soccer I’ve seen from us all year,” head coach Bobby Kramig said of the start despite not being able to capitalize.
BGSU fired its lone shot on goal of the half in the 45th minute, but Miami freshman keeper Madison Ryan (Marietta, Ga.) made the save and started a break the other way for the ‘Hawks. Classmate Katy Dolesh (South Euclid, Ohio) then fired a blast 20 seconds later that was initially saved by Arsenault but junior Giselle Mangal (Mississauga, Ont.) was there to bury the rebound, putting Miami up 1-0 with just 12 ticks to play in the frame. It was Mangal’s fifth tally of the season.
The RedHawks took their slim lead into the break after outshooting Bowling Green, 7-4, in the half, including 4-1 in shots on goal, but Arsenault made three saves to keep the Falcons in the contest. BGSU did earn all three corners in the opening 45 minutes, however.
In the 59th minute, Bowling Green knotted the game at 1-1 when Katie Stephenson scored on a penalty kick after Miami fouled in the box. Just over four minutes later, the Falcons grabbed the lead on a goal by Jackie Tamerlano that barely crossed the goal line before senior captain Brooke Livingston (Lisle, Ill.) could clear it. Alyssa Zuccaro picked up the assist on the score.
In the 70th minute Miami had a chance to pull even after a hand ball was called on BGSU in the penalty box. Arsenault came up huge again for the Falcons however, saving the penalty kick by sophomore Jess Kodiak (Naperville, Ill.).
“Their goalkeeper was on fire today. She’s a senior, last game ever and boy, she came to play,” Kramig said of Arsenault. “But after that we kind of got going. We had all of the play, they could hardly get out of their own end, and we were getting chances but they wouldn’t go in. We’d struggled with our finishing the last two weekends and then you could just feel it building up and when it let loose, it really let loose.”
Just as a possible division title seemed to be dwindling, Dolesh rose to the occasion with her seventh goal of the season in the 76th minute to put the score at 2-2. The flood gates then opened for the ‘Hawks, notching three more goals over the next eight minutes to lock up a 5-2 win and the MAC East title.
“Everyone was freaking out a little bit at that point (after the missed PK) but we knew we had the better of play the whole game. We just kept at them, stayed poised and Katy Dolesh put in a nice goal and then we put on a clinic,” Livingston said. “It was a great way to end the season.”
Freshman Dani Fraelick (Glenview, Ill.) scored the go-ahead goal, her first career game-winner and just her third score of the year, in the 78th minute while senior Sara Lund (Malmo, Sweden) made it 4-2 82:05 into the game on her second tally of the season. Fraelick picked up the assist on Lund’s goal. Kodiak then avenged her missed penalty kick with Miami’s fifth goal just over a minute later. It was her team-leading ninth of the year while Dolesh earned her second assist of the day on the score, giving her a career-high-tying four points for the contest. Fellow freshman Kayla Zakrzewski (London, Ont.) also garnered a helper on the play, her seventh assist of 2010.
“It’s an absolutely remarkable comeback by our kids,” Kramig said. “It was a great job by our kids keeping their composure, never giving up, even after going down a goal and missing a penalty kick. They had every reason to quit and they didn’t and they kept playing and hammering away and it paid off.”
The five goals scored are the second most by the RedHawks this year, trailing only the school-record 15 registered in the season opener against Alabama A&M. Miami finished with an 18-7 edge in shots, including 11-4 in the final stanza, while also earning the only two corners of the period. Arsenault stopped six of the 11 shots she faced while Ryan made one save in each half.
“I think we wanted to finish off strong going into the MAC Tournament,” Livingston said. “We’re really excited to play Akron and get the chance for some revenge at home. Everything plays into our hands and we’re really excited for this weekend.”
The RedHawks now turn their attention to the MAC Tournament and its quarterfinal rematch with No. 7 Akron, as Miami bested UA on the road in last year’s quarterfinals. The ‘Hawks host the Zips at 1 p.m. at Miami Soccer Field Sunday, Oct. 31 and will be looking to avenge its 2-1 overtime loss to Akron during the 2010 regular season. Because it is a MAC Tournament contest, the game will be ticketed with tickets costing $5 for adults and $3 for any student with an ID or any youth.