While the University of Miami has many sports teams that are on the rise after joining the ACC, the women’s soccer team has taken several steps backward.
The women’s soccer team’s season has been nothing short of a disaster. The fact is, if women’s soccer was treated like football or basketball, everyone would be outraged. As I am writing this column, its season has ended with a first round 2-0 loss to Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament. The ‘Canes finished 3-13 on the season and 1-8 in the ACC.
The game marked the seventh time in 13 losses that the Hurricanes were shut out and on the season Miami was outscored 37 to 12.
Perhaps the saddest thing about this is that no one seems to care. When the men’s basketball team struggled last season, there were a few people who got angry about it. Fans went to games with “Fire Perry” T-shirts or started chants. The good news for Head Coach Tricia Taliaferro is that she does not have to worry about things like that.
When Jim Blankenship coached the team in 2001, the Hurricanes were 10-9-1 and lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Then Taliaferro was hired, and now the program has moved in the wrong direction. In her first season, the team posted a .500 record but lost in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament to Rutgers. Last season, the team was .500 again and lost in the first round of the Big East Tournament to Notre Dame.
This year the team was 3-13, won only once in conference play, and routinely was embarrassed. Excluding the FIU game, Taliaferro is 21-31 with two ties since coming to the University of Miami.
I have to admit, I feel guilty writing this column because I genuinely like Taliaferro as a person and in the times I’ve dealt with her, I have been impressed. However, this program is not on the rise. Someone has to be held accountable for this team, and I think you have to look at the coach.
Taliaferro has been here three seasons, so these are mostly all her players now. She recruited these girls and if they cannot get it done on the field, the responsibility has to fall squarely on her shoulders.
I realize that Miami joined the ACC, which is a tougher conference in most sports, and soccer seems to fit that mold. However, these games have not even been close. It is one thing to lose 2-1 in overtime, but this season featured a 4-0 loss to Virginia, a 4-1 loss to Duke, a 5-1 loss to North Carolina and a 5-0 loss to Wake Forest. Overall, the Hurricanes lost seven games by more than one goal.
The bottom line is that this team has hit rock bottom. Things have to get better at some point, because they cannot possibly get any worse. This team is the soccer equivalent of the Miami Dolphins and to say they are struggling would be an enormous understatement.
Changes need to be made in this soccer program to fix the problem. In three seasons, Taliaferro has yet to finish with a better record than Blankenship did in 2001. That should tell Athletic Director Paul Dee something. If it doesn’t, I invite Mr. Dee to watch tapes of the soccer games this season. That will show him all he needs to know.
Darren Grossman can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.