Sometimes you can’t judge a team based on sheer numbers.
The University of Miami women’s soccer team ended the season with an 8-10-1 (3-6-1) record. The record does not portray the Canes’ great play throughout the season, staying competitive in the toughest conference in the country. They beat three top teams including beating the No.2 Tar Heels, the greatest win in the program’s history.
Throughout the season, the main problem for UM was its lackluster offense. In a season of 18 games the leading scorer, junior Brittney Steinbruch, amassed four goals. Freshman Kate Howarth scored all her goals in one game against Ball State before ACC competition. The lack of an explosive threat up front to keep the defense on their toes seriously hurt the Canes.
It’s hard to fault Steinbruch, who also led the team in shots and points. It was great to see Steinbruch back and healthy for the entire year but she needs to be able to contribute more. In part Steinbruch seems out of her element out wide. Steinbruch, much like senior Beverly Goebel in the midfield, fits better in the middle due to her superb technical skills and powerful shot. She was able to open up space in the middle and create clear shots for her three goals of the season.
The midfield remains strong in dictating play, even as head coach Tricia Taliaferro chose formations that seemed to bypass the midfield and embrace a counter-attack approach in games. The defenders such as senior Jessica Wyble and redshirt sophomore Danielle Bidegain took up the challenge to go up strong during games and were key in many of the Canes’ offensive plays. Goebel and junior Lauren Singer continued to direct play for the Canes, while the addition of freshman Jordan Roseboro as a defensive midfield midway through the season helped the orange and green recover more balls and retain possession.
The defense, along with sophomore goalie Vikki Alonzo, remains one of the strongest aspects of the team, recording seven shutouts in the season. Juniors Barbara Blocker and Brittney Macdonald remained strong in the back while Wyble and sophomore Ashlee Burt provided steady support on the wings. The defense’s only problem was mental lapses resulting in early goals or quick goals that put the Canes out of games they were otherwise controlling and capable of winning.
Alonzo continued her superb play as she broke former goalie Lauren McAdam’s record for most shutouts in a career. She now has the record for school shutouts (17) after only two years with the Canes. The UM soccer team seems to have grown accustomed to getting wins without needing to score a lot of goals. Seven of their eight wins came in shutouts.
The Canes continue to be a team on the periphery but they have the talent to break through. Like Taliaferro stated throughout the season, the team needed to earn the benefit of the doubt in the conference. They need to believe in themselves first and enter games understanding they are on even playing field with the historic soccer giants they face. They showed that belief against North Carolina.
Debora Rubi may be contacted at email@example.com.