Miami secures MAC regular-season title, top seed with 3-1 victory over Huskie women





Score by Period 1st   2nd   OT  


Miami 1 - 2 - - - 3 MU now 12-2-1 overall, 9-1-0 in the MAC
Northern Illinois 0 - 1 - - - 1 NIU now 5-9-0 overall, 3-6-0 in the MAC


Scoring Summary:
MU --- Andrea Cunningham (Danielle Altiero assist), 12:13 Gone.
MU --- Andrea Cunningham (Unassisted), 62:37 Gone.
NIU --- Chanelle Crosby (Unassisted), 80:22 Gone.
MU --- Danielle Berkemeier (Andrea Cunningham asst), 89:44 Gone

Statistical Summary:

Statistic MU NIU
Overall Shots 24 16
Shots on Goal 12 3
Corner Kicks 8 3
Offsides 1 4
Fouls 15 19




DeKALB, IL---Experience can mean the difference between winning and losing. Just ask the Northern Illinois University women's soccer team, which learned a valuable lesson Friday (Oct. 18) as a veteran Miami (OH) University team took advantage of two NIU miscues and went on to defeat the Huskies, 3-1.


Miami wrapped up the regular-season Mid-American Conference title and the top seed in the conference tournament with the victory, winning its fourth in a row to move to 11-2-1 overall and 9-1-0 in the league. Northern Illinois dropped to 5-9-0 on the season and 3-6-0 in the MAC with its third consecutive setback.


"We made two big mistakes and were behind 2-0 when it should be 0-0 against a really good team," NIU coach Frank Horvat said. "Our play at times showed how far we have come as a team. We just need to be more consistent and take away the big mistakes. If we can do that, we'll win games. I'm proud of the way we stepped up, but we need to learn how to win this kind of game."


The RedHawks got on the board at the 12:13 mark when Danielle Altiero intercepted a clearing pass to start a two-on-one counterattack in the Huskie zone. Altiero found Andrea Cunningham running down the right side and fed the senior forward for an eight-yard shot against a defenseless Leigh Steigerwald (Fort Lauderdale, FL / St. Thomas Aquinas) to put the visitors ahead 1-0.


Miami had to settle for that one-goal margin at the intermission despite outshooting NIU 11-6, with no Huskie attempts reaching MU netminder Leigh Terry. The lead swelled to 2-0 at 62:37 when Cunningham's ten-yard shot slipped off of Steigerwald's hands into the net, giving the RedHawks a seemingly comfortable lead. But Chanelle Crosby (Englewood, CO / Littleton Arapahoe) pulled Northern Illinois to within 2-1 at 80:22 when the freshman lofted a 25-yard shot past a diving Terry into the far corner of the net for her third goal of the year.


A revitalized NIU had several chances to post the equalizer as Miami struggled to clear its own zone, but Denise Papke (New Lenox / Lincoln-Way) lifted two shots over the crossbar and Tiffany Anderson (Libertyville) had an open shot from ten yards out but could not beat Terry. Danielle Berkemeier put the match out of reach at 89:44 by converting Cunningham's pass for her tenth goal of the season.


Miami's experience played a role in the victory, with Miami coach Bobby Kramig starting five seniors as the RedHawks defended their top seed in the MAC's preseason coaches' poll. Cunningham's five points make her the conference's all-time leading scorer with 126 in her four-year career, three more than fellow senior Berkemeier.


"We had Miami on the ropes. We had our chances against a team we're not supposed to be on the same field with," Horvat noted. "They have six seniors, we have none. We played well enough to win, but we didn't perform when we needed it. Denise shot the ball high and Tiffany hit their goalkeeper with a shot with an open side. They're little things that add up big on the scoreboard. Just being in the game isn't good enough, because the scoreboard just shows that we lost. People won't remember how hard we played, they just remember the final score."


The Huskies conclude a three-match homestand Sunday (Oct. 20) versus Ball State University. That 2:30 p.m. meeting follows the match between the NIU men's team and Western Michigan University, which begins at noon.


-30- --- Copy by Robert Hester



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