At the end of a roller coaster schedule of games, the University of Miami women’s soccer team (8-10-1, 3-6-1 ACC) continues to find its identity within the Atlantic Coast Conference, one of the toughest in the country.
Heartbreaking losses started and ended the Hurricanes’ season.
It began with a close 1-0 home loss to then-No. 8 Florida in front of the largest crowd ever (2,277) at Cobb Stadium. It ended with a 2-0 loss to Virginia that eliminated the Canes from the ACC Tournament.
Miami, however, earned its biggest win in program history when the host Canes upset No. 2 North Carolina 1-0 on a Beverly Goebel goal.
“The highlight of the year was beating UNC,” rising sophomore forward Kate Howarth said. “It’s just really important that we play as a team and improve together as a team.”
For the second year in a row, strong defense defined the team, led by rising junior goalie Vikki Alonzo, who already holds the school record for shutouts (17).
But the offense found it at times difficult to support Alonzo’s strong outings. Eight of the Hurricanes’ losses were shutouts, including heartbreakers against powerhouses Portland and Michigan.
Despite this, the team continued to find success in both All-Academic ACC and NCAA honors.
Rising senior defender Brittney Macdonald and rising senior forward Brittney Steinbruch earned All-Academic ACC for the third year in a row, while Goebel and rising junior midfielder Ashlee Burt made it for the first time.
This upcoming season Miami must replace six seniors that played varying positions on the field. The Canes lose speed in the back without Jessica Wyble and attack up front without Paulelett Ricks-Chambers.
Goebel, who was drafted by the Washington Freedom in Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), will be a missed force in midfield for the Hurricanes.
“There are always positions you’re going to have to fill, but we have a great young class under us,” Steinbruch said.
During spring practice, Howarth said that the improvement already fixed some of the mistakes from the fall.
To Steinbruch, spring was the highlight of the season as it was the time when the team most came together.
“The spring semester was different from other years,” Steinbruch said. “We did drills and agility as usual, but what we changed on and off the field was to create a great bond and chemistry to recover for next year and have a great season.”
With a strong underclass that includes Howarth, rising sophomore midfielder Jordan Roseboro and four recruits, the goal remains to make both the ACC and NCAA Tournament.
“We’re different since it’s our last year,” Steinbruch said. “The seniors are driven to win and have a great season and the young class is coming up and clicking with us.”
Debora Rubi may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.