The University of Miami soccer team is off to their best start since 2001 with the help of two transfers, midfielder Jenna Levenson and forward Sammy Sanderson. Both Levenson and Sanderson bring division one experience from the Southeast Conference to the field that has given the team a boost.
“They both bring leadership and overall experience to the team,” Head Coach Tricia Taliaferro said. “They are driven to do well on and off the field.”
Sanderson transferred to UM from Louisiana State University for a change of pace and a chance to play in the competitive Atlantic Coast Conference.
“I transferred to UM mainly because of the coaching as well as the style of soccer played,” Sanderson said. “The coaching and feedback given is very honest and straightforward.”
Levenson transferred from in-state rival University of Florida because of the Hurricane coaching staff’s reputation with their athletes.
“The system at UM is a lot more player friendly,” Levenson said. “At my other school, the coaches were concerned about the players, but the answers were sometimes sugarcoated.”
Levenson, originally from Boca Raton, chose Miami in part because she wanted to remain in Florida.
She has wasted no time making her transition. Levenson has already recorded two of the 13 goals the ‘Canes have scored in their first seven games.
Sanderson was a starter at LSU last year and appeared in 17 games. However, Sanderson asked for her release from the team in March after a new head coach was brought it who planned to go in a different direction.
“The style of play in the SEC is focused on being more physical than actually playing soccer,” Sanderson said.
Unlike most of her teammates, Sanderson did not play soccer in high school. Instead, she gained her experience on the club circuit playing against 19-year-olds when she was just 15 years old. Sanderson believes this is what gave her a competitive edge and helped her prepare for collegiate play.
The fast start has increased the expectations of this year’s team and prompted goals that Sanderson and Levenson will work to achieve along with the rest of the soccer squad.
“I think the ultimate goals are to have a winning season and qualify for the ACC tournament as well as the NCAA tournament this year,” Sanderson said. “We are definitely going to be a team to beat this year because in the past we have been looked at as doormats by the rest of the conference”
According to both Sanderson and Levenson, one big factor to their early success has been the team’s communication with one another.
“As a team we are very close, but come game time we are all there cheering each other on,” Levenson said.
Aside from all the good, both players say there is still room for improvement.
“I would say the speed of play could be improved upon and of course knowing who is present on the field with you,” Sanderson stated.
Taliaferro welcomes the additions to the team and believes they will be instrumental in guiding the team to a winning season.
“It’s nice to see the overall enthusiasm they bring,” Taliaferro said. “It shows that our soccer program is going in the right direction.”
Ben Brislawn may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.