The Miami humidity is finally starting to affect the soccer players. The game is getting late, but Anik Huffman is still sticking to her assignment. She runs down the right sideline, watching players react to the ball. Over time, it isn’t really the ball or the players that are moving, it’s the field itself.
Huffman sees the field widen and shorten with each movement of the ball. The ever-changing lengths of the field are never even or still.
As a midfielder, it is Huffman’s job to shorten the offensive side of the field and make the defensive side as long as possible for the opponent. There is one word that sums up her mission throughout of the game: transition.
“I widen the defense; it is about the width of the field. I have to keep the transition,” Huffman said.
Although this may appear to be far-fetched, this is how the game is played and won. To Huffman, the junior midfielder from Winter Park, Florida, this is how she perceives the game. She has always seen the game move rapidly and even as a child she preferred this speed.
“[I chose soccer] to play with my sister when I was seven, and it’s better than ballet,” Huffman said.
Huffman hasn’t changed her tempo since her high school days, where she was first team all-state during her final two years, scoring 12 goals and totaling 35 assists her senior year.
Aside from high school, one of the most influential experiences for Huffman was playing on club teams.
“[Soccer clubs] were a great experience to get to play with girls and see them now at various colleges,” Huffman said.
Huffman chose to come to UM in 2001 and as a freshman she played in all 20 games and was the team leader in shooting percentage.
“UM is like an adventure, it is a special place with great opportunities,” Huffman said.
As a junior, Huffman has assumed new responsibilities on the field. She now serves as a leader on the team and provides experience on a young squad.
“Being an upper classman gives me the experience to understand what the new players are going through,” she said.
Huffman has done an admirable job as a leader, already amassing four points on the year, good for fourth on the team. She currently leads the team in percentage of shots on goal at .727.
Miami is 8-6-1 on the season, which includes a recent loss to Notre Dame, the No. 2 team in the nation.
“It was disappointing losing to Notre Dame, but that is good that we were disappointed losing to the second best team in the nation,” Huffman said.
Huffman is excited about where the Hurricanes stand this year and where they will be in the future.
“The team morale is really good and the team is young. I feel we’re at the peak and everybody is really excited,” she said.
Hopefully the ‘Canes will be peaking at the right time if they wish to advance to the final four of the Big East and qualify for the NCAA tournament.
Spencer Weinkle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org