It had all the makings of a wonderful story. Cobb Stadium would host the final game of the season for the Miami Women’s soccer team and for the seniors, it would be the final game of their career. They had the chance to go out on a wonderfully high note, by playing the 23rd ranked Duke Blue Devils. But one weak shot, two bad bounces, and a talented and lucky Blue Devil team all came together to put a damper on the happy ending, 3-0.
The scoring began in the 31st minute, when KayAnne Gummersall worked her way around three defenders, and got a relatively scrawny shot, but just enough to get past goalie Lauren McAdam and into the net inside the right goalpost.
The defensive breakdown continued when a corner kick led to a crowd in front of the goal, and after rattling around in that area for a few seconds, Sara Murphy was able to head in the second goal of the match, assisted by Elisabeth Redmond.
The defense closed up until the 85th minute, when Lauren Tippets broke free in front of the goal, her shot off the top of the crossbar. The ball ricocheted off, right back to Tippets, where she was able to connect on her second attempt, and finish the ‘Canes.
A scare came during the 52nd minute, when Bryn Heinicke collapsed following a fight for the ball. As she showed an expression of extreme pain, the medical staff rushed to the field. After attempting to walk on her own power, the training staff was forced to carry her off. Following the game, Head Coach Tricia Taliaferro was able to confirm it was an injury to Heinicke’s knee, but the extent of the injury is presently unknown.
For Duke (9-6-2, 5-3-1 ACC), it’s another bid to the ACC Championship, which is not the case for the ‘Canes (8-9-1, 1-8-1 ACC). However, while Miami realizes there is much to be done, they also know how much progress has been made.
“If you look at our wins, and the losses by one goal, it shows how far we’ve come,” Taliaferro said. “We’re genuinely upset if we lose to top teams and that all stems from increased confidence.”
Despite the loss, the Miami team focused on their graduating seniors. Alex Alford, Julie Brooks, Kristen Chapman and Kristen Kenny have all played their final game here at the U and their contributions were fondly recalled.
“This team will be greatly impacted by their loss,” said Taliaferro. “They were the foundation I put down when I came to rebuild this program, and they have done a great job as leaders of this team.”
Family members were on hand Friday night for the Senior Night activities, and the kindest words, as expected, came from them.
“The time has gone by so quickly in so many ways,” said Mary Ann Alford, mother of Alex. “Having my daughter here in Miami for four years has been such a gift.”
Matthew Bunch may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org