The Lady RedHawks stayed hot this season, earning wins this weekend over non-conference opponents Eastern Illinois and Evansville. Playing at home for the first time since August 22, they shut out the Panthers 2-0 on Friday, and then edged the Purple Aces 3-2 on Sunday. The ‘Hawks improved to 7-2 on the season, extending their winning streak to four games.
Friday’s match got off to a slow start. Though Miami outshot the Panthers (3-5-2) 7-0 in the opening half, the teams went into halftime in a scoreless deadlock. But in the second half a pair of freshmen stepped up for Miami. Sam Whitmore found the back of the net less than five minutes after the second half started. It was her fourth score of the season, her first since her hat trick in the season-opening blowout over Alabama A&M. It wasn’t until the 80th minute that Kayla Zakrzewski made it 2-0 Miami, with her third goal of the year. Freshman goalkeeper Kris Gasparovic made her second start of the season and recorded her second straight shutout. She had five saves in the 2-0 win over Winthrop last week, but the Panthers never really tested her, as their only shot of Friday’s game was off-target.
Alumni weekend concluded for the ‘Hawks on Saturday with Senior Day. Miami’s six senior players were honored before the match against Evansville (2-6-1). Once the game was underway, it was one of the newest ‘Hawks who would emerge as the hero. The Purple Aces who struck first, scoring in the 22nd minute. However, the ‘Hawks responded quickly, and with a vengeance. Junior Courtney Clarke scored her second goal of the year in the 26th minute to tie the game. Fellow junior Giselle Mangal, a transfer from Louisville, scored her first goal as a RedHawk in the 29th minute to give Miami the lead. The score would remain 2-1 Miami going into halftime.
In the second half, Whitemore and Zakrzewski tried to keep their respective momentum from Friday’s match, with both clanging shots off the goalposts. However, the Purple Aces managed to tie the game in the 73rd minute. Once again, though, Miami shot back quickly, with Mangal scoring a second time, netting the game-winner in the 81st minute. Senior goalkeeper Rachelle Boff made two saves to earn the win, improving to 4-1 on the year.
It may seem like I’m saying the same thing every week when it comes to this team, but you have to love their consistency. The offense is scoring goals almost at will, while the defense is stiffling the opposition. The shots this weekend were 47-8 in favor of Miami. That really tells you just how dominantly this team is playing. That is fortunate, considering this was their last “warm-up” of the season. The games really start to count from here on out, as the rest of the season is all conference opponents. Next week the ‘Hawks host Kent State (1-3-3) and Buffalo (1-7). These games are particularly important, as both schools are divisional rivals.