Sunday, October 06, 2002

Area women make up Miami's soccer nucleus

Berkemeier, Cunningham rule records

By Ryan Ernst,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Miami University soccer players Andrea Cunningham and Danielle Berkemeier learned to share at an early age.

        At 9, they shared goals and laughs as members of the Kolping BenGals, a select team. In high school, at McAuley and Fairfield respectively, they shared city and state honors. During the summers, they shared the field on club teams.

Danielle Berkemeier, formerly of Fairfield High School.
(File/Saed Hindash photo)
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    Miami soccer player Danielle Altiero is Mid-American Conference co-player of the week after scoring both goals in a 2-0 win over Buffalo.

    Three freshmen from Xavier were honored as the Atlantic 10 rookies of the week for their respective sports. Meggie Hoffman earned her fourth straight honor for volleyball. Kristen Clary won the award for the second straight week in tennis. Andy Farrell (Loveland), was tabbed the top freshman in the conference in soccer.

    Northern Kentucky volleyball player Nicole Salisbury recorded 41 kills and 22 digs in two matches and was named last week's Great Lakes Valley Conference player of the week.

    After winning medalist honors at the Notre Dame Invitational, UC's Allison Couch was named Conference USA golfer of the month.

    Fellow Bearcat Heather Herweh (Ursuline) was named to Soccer America's national team of the week for two UC shutout wins.

    Mount St. Joseph senior receiver Steve Roby caught four passes for 80 yards to earn Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference player of the week honors.

    Hanover's Erin Matson (McAuley) finished 13th of 204 runners at the Louisville Classic, earning HCAC cross country runner of the week.

        Now, as college seniors, they share two Mid-American Conference Tournament titles and a stronghold on the Miami record book.

        Entering this weekend's games with Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan, the two were tied for the most points in MAC history with 118 each. They are first and second in every offensive category in the school's career records. Bragging rights, however, are taking a backseat to Miami's goal of its first MAC regular-season title.

        “We never really talk about (the records) at all,” said Cunningham, last season's MAC Player of the Year. “It's never like "I have more goals than you.' Even after the season, I don't think we'll talk about it.”

        Cunningham and Berkemeier, along with everyone else in the MAC, would rather talk about the RedHawks' 6-0 league start and their 8-1 overall beginning.

        The mark is a far cry from the program's 12-21-3 record in its two-year existence before the duo arrived in Oxford.

        What have Berkemeier and Cunningham contributed to the program's turnaround?

        “Only everything,” coach Bobby Kramig said. “It's been so much more than just scoring goals. There's lots of kids around that score goals. It's the competitive attitude, the standard they set in practice, the intensity, the focus.”

        The rivalry?

        “No,” Berkemeier said. “With the way this team is, there are plenty of goals being scored. It doesn't matter who scores them, as long as they're getting in the net.”

        Plenty of goals have been getting in the net for the RedHawks this season. And more often than not, they come from either Berkemeier or Cunningham. Going into this weekend, they combined for 11 of the team's 21 goals.

        “The understanding and the playing relationship they have on the field is not something you can coach,” Kramig said. “I've never seen anything like it in 20 years of coaching. It's beyond anything I can understand.”

        Kramig may have difficulty grasping his star players' unspoken communication on the field, but they seem to understand it just fine.

        “It's not even really eye contact,” Cunningham said. “I know she's gonna make a run to get the ball, or she just knows I'm gonna make a run.”

        “It definitely is unspoken,” Berkemeier agreed. “I mean, we've played together since we were 9. We obviously know how each other plays and how to play off each other really well.

        “It's a mental thing between us. We always know where the other person is going to be.”

        How about right next to each other, in the Miami record books?


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