One word perfectly describes Vonda Matthews’s style of soccer: versatile.
“In high school I never had one set position,” Matthews said, which would explain why the move from defense to forward hasn’t fazed last year’s most valuable player on the team.
Matthews, a junior from Oklahoma, knows success well. She led her high school team to a State Championship, and her club team, the Oklahoma Outrage, to a National Championship. A First Team All-American coming out of high school, most of the nation’s elite programs, including UNC and Notre Dame wanted Matthews to play for them, but instead she chose an up and coming University of Miami program where she knew she could make an immediate impact.
Matthews has certainly lived up to expectations, being named to the Big East All-Rookie Team her freshman year, as well as the Big East Second Team her freshmen and sophomore years.
Matthews’s versatility has developed throughout her UM career as she continues to rack up goals and assists while helping to lead the team with her defensive skills as well. The player that Matthews said has helped her develop the most while at Miami is red shirt junior Allison McWhinney, another explosive and versatile player for UM.
“She really took me under her wing and taught me a lot when I got here,” said Matthews
Even though Matthews majors in Business Management at UM, she wants to pursue a career in soccer, either as a player or a coach after she graduates, which makes sense for a player with so much talent who has had such success throughout her career.
But don’t think for a second that all this success has gotten to Matthews head. When asked about the strongest aspect of her game, she said that she most enjoys giving her teammates a chance to score, which she has proven with her team leading six assists. Although she has given her teammates plenty of chances to score, Matthews had not scored all season going into last week’s game against Rutgers.
“My teammates make fun of me that I can’t score this season,” Matthews said with a laugh.
However, she broke her dry spell by scoring two goals against Rutgers in a game the ‘Canes lost 6-5 in double overtime.
That renewed ability for Matthews to score will boost the team’s already explosive offense as they finish up the regular season and head into the Big East Tournament.
“The team had three goals for the season,” said Matthews. “The first was to host a Big East Tournament Game, which we accomplished, the second is to win the Big East Tournament, and the third is the NCAA tournament.”
If the team has a chance at reaching these next two goals, Matthews’s versatility and leadership will play a huge role in the team’s success, just as it has since Matthews arrived at Miami.
Catch Mathews and the Hurricane soccer team in their last home game of the season against Central Florida tonight a 7:00 PM at Cobb Stadium.
You can reach Nate Johnson at NPJ44@aol.com.