Women’s soccer edges ‘Cuse in crucial match

The Hurricanes edged Syracuse (8-7-1, 2-3-1 in the Big East) 2-1 on Sunday at Cobb Stadium in a crucial final regular season home match. The ‘Canes are 10-6-1 and 4-1 in conference play.

They now look ahead to successfully getting into the post season.

“It was a big game,” said junior Britney Butcher. “We need to start gaining points to get into the Big East Tournament.”

Sunday was Senior Day at Cobb, and graduating players Vonda Matthews, Michelle Provenzano, and Mary Luke were recognized.

“I got real excited before the game just playing all out for our seniors,” said Butcher.

Butcher and junior Lindsey Yach had the only goals of the game, with Yach also assisting Butcher’s score. Butcher and Matthews each had three shots on goal while junior Andrea Radice had one as well. Yach went one-for-one. Freshman goalkeeper Alex Alford made nine saves.

In the first half, junior Gitana Gotay turned the ball around to save the Orangemen’s first attempt at scoring. The offense looked aggressive in keeping the ball in control. After three shots on goal, Butcher’s fourth attempt was successful 33 minutes into the match, giving Miami a 1-0 lead. Alford managed four saves in the half.

The second half saw a more fierce competition with a Butcher-Yach pass that was miraculously fought off by Syracuse backup goalie Emily Kowalczyk. A ‘Cuse junior Kelly Bailie penalty shot sailed over the net, but sophomore Kristina Cristofori was able to follow it up with a goal at 71:54. Butcher kept the ball in a controlled dribble down the field, setting up and attempted a score that led Kowalczyk to knock her down. She was given a red card, and Cristofori, a field player, became goalkeeper. (The Orangemen’s starting goalie had suffered a dislocated thumb prior to the start of the match.) Yach was able to score off the penalty kick, giving the Hurricanes their final lead of the match.

“Between the two of them, [Yach] and Butcher, they were starting to read each other much better,” said Head Coach Tricia Taliaferro. “Tactically, being able to slip in between the backs to get those other chances, I think Butcher was one of the main reasons why we won today.”

Yach’s confidence in the team never made her doubt its abilities.

“First half I think we did awesome,” said Yach. “We let down a little bit in the second half for 10 minutes, but then we brought it back up and showed that we can finish the game where we started the game.”

Taliaferro, in her second year at UM after coaching at University of Illinois, enjoyed her first win over Syracuse as a collegiate soccer coach.

“I thought we did well,” said Taliaferro. “I think that’s one of the things we’ve been focusing in on is to be able to perform in the Big East games, and just being organized. Everybody contributed and created a lot of chances so I was pleased overall with our performance.”

Miami has two matches remaining, both in the Big East. Friday the ‘Canes take on Boston College in Chestnut Hill at 7 pm and Sunday they move just south, to Providence, for a 1 pm game. Coming into the Syracuse match, UM was ranked fourth in the Northeast division of the Big East, but will no doubt move up with the win.

“We’re just going to maintain what we’ve been doing,” said Taliaferro. “We’ve just been trying to clean up some things technically and create some chances. We’re not going to do anything different in the next week because I think our momentum is going, and we’re confident in the way we’re playing right now.”

Melissa Teich can be reached at melissateich@hotmail.com.