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8 October 2009

Soccer needs second-half improvements to make NCAA tournament

Debora Rubi

Debora Rubi

The University of Miami stands at .500 through its first twelve games. However, they carry a losing record in the ACC (1-2). The results don’t reflect the talent of the team that continues to be plagued by mental mistakes and a relatively stagnant offense that does not reflect the strong defense and ball control they regularly portray.

In games against No. 3 Boston College and No. 5 Florida State, it was not a lack of effort or vision but quick, consecutive goals that led to losses. Aside from the slight mental lapses over spans of five minutes in those games, they stayed competitive and played at the high level of their opponents. The Hurricanes have not had trouble directing play against tough opponents; it’s only that final pass, that precision shot or run that seems to be missing at the end of great plays.

The Canes have scored only six goals in their last nine games. They’ve been shut out in all of their six losses. Despite the many changes to personnel that head coach Tricia Taliaferro has introduced, including putting right back Danielle Bidegain and backup goalie Ali-Brennan up top, the offense is still having a hard time capitalizing.

The Hurricanes have enough players to create pace and ball control, specifically when senior Beverly Goebel and junior Lauren Singer are able to establish command in the midfield. Senior Paulelett Ricks-Chambers has been great working up and down the sideline. Her speed and athleticism is tremendous. Junior Brittney Steinbruch, not for a lack of effort, has had a hard time scoring, with only two goals in the season. But most importantly she is healthy unlike last year.

Freshman Kate Howarth remains the team scoring leader with three goals, all scored in a game against Ball State. Howarth underscores a great freshman class for the Canes. Freshman Jordan Roseboro got her first score of the season against Maryland. The assist went to another outstanding freshman: Megan Siebert. Seibert has stood out as great support to Singer and Goebel in the midfield. Freshman Fatima Nasser has been outstanding not only in her consistent play but in her diversity, she’s played in the back, midfield, and front.

Sophomore keeper Vikki Alonzo continues her superb play from last year, continuously keeping the Canes in games as they try to gather momentum.

The defense has helped keep the Canes competitive and given Alonzo the support she needs to stay confident. Alonzo is definitely the team MVP thus far. Juniors Britney MacDonald and Britney Blocker continue to create a defensive wall in the backfield while sophomores Danielle Bidegain and Ashlee Burt regularly help the transition of the ball up field.

The Canes look to have a strong second half and make the NCAA Tournament as they play in the toughest conference, the ACC.

UM’s next game is at home at Cobb Stadium against ACC foe Clemson. First kick is at 7:30 p.m.

Debora Rubi may be contacted at drubi@themiamihurricane.com.