The University of Miami soccer team’s 2016 season came to an end on Monday after the Canes were not selected to compete in the NCAA Tournament. The team was ranked No. 7 in the ACC, but teams ranked one through six, and eight, in the conference all made the tournament, leading many to believe that the team got snubbed.
“Of course as a coaching staff, it is hard to have our team understand why they didn’t get in,” Fourth-Year Head Coach Mary-Frances Monroe said. “We deserved to get into the tournament and we beat teams this season that I don’t think we got enough respect for, and it is unfortunate that is the way it happens sometimes, but I definitely feel like we should’ve been in the tournament.”
The Hurricanes (10-8-1, 5-5-0 ACC) were picked to place last in the conference, but surprised many by qualifying for the ACC Tournament for the first time since 2012.
“We went into preseason and the team knew that once the votes came out that we were voted from our peers to come in last place in the conference,” Monroe said. “We set a goal to prove people wrong and I’m so proud of the team. That is a huge testament to our players performing every day in training and committing themselves to our team goal of making the ACC Tournament, and I just couldn’t have asked for a better group to buy into that.”
The Canes capped off the season setting a new program record for conference victories with five, featuring two upset wins over No. 2 Virginia and No. 25 Virginia Tech.
Led by a strong senior class, Miami concluded regular season play ranked third in the conference in assists (40), fifth in points (104), tied for fifth in goals (32) and tied for fifth in shutouts (seven).
“The team really committed themselves to having more of an attacking presence, whereas the few years prior to that we didn’t score a ton of goals,” Monroe said. “They really committed themselves to play like a team and complete passes, connect in the box, limit the number of crosses and shots on goal defensively, and they did a great job with it.”
Senior forward Gracie Lachowecki, the No. 44-ranked player in the nation by Top Drawer Soccer, led the attack for the Hurricanes with 11 goals, becoming the first player in program history to register double-digit tallies in multiple seasons. Lachowecki finished her illustrious career in sole possession of third place on Miami’s all-time scoring list with 24 goals and fourth in points (54).
Freshman forward Kristina Fisher and junior forward Ronnie Johnson combined for 14 goals and nine assists.
The Canes defense, led by senior captains Gianna Dal Pozzo and Shannon McCarthy as well as redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce, gave up less than one goal a game on average.
Lachowecki was selected to the first-team All-ACC and Fisher was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team.
During the season, Lachowecki twice earned ACC Offensive Player of the Week honors, while freshman forward Dejah Cason earned it once. Tullis-Joyce was named ACC Defensive Player of the Week in September. Lachowecki, Fisher and Tullis-Joyce were all named NSCAA College Player of the Week on separate weeks during the season.
Although the Hurricanes are graduating four seniors this year, Monroe believes that the program will continue its success.
“Our future looks super bright and this program is going in the right direction,” Monroe said. “Players come into the program that we want to make immediate impacts as younger players, and with a combination with our upperclassmen, with their experience, is going to be crucial to our success.”