Women’s soccer spends time in Brazil, opens season with loss

Women’s soccer Head Coach Tricia Taliaferro had an opportunity to do something special this pre-season, and she took advantage of the chance. Taliaferro took the ‘Canes on a tour of Brazil, which included six scrimmages in 10 days against international competition.

Taliaferro said the trip was an overwhelming success.

“The trip was fantastic for us, as far as our development goes,” Taliaferro said. “Usually it takes a couple of games to get going at the start of the season, but now we should be ready to go in that first game.”

Not only were the scrimmages good for the returning players, but they also gave a chance for the coaching staff to see what the freshmen could do in game situations. The team returns 14 letter winners from last year’s 9-9-1 squad, but the freshmen have impressed Taliaferro and four will be in the starting lineup to start the season.

“The freshmen came in and really did a great job,” Taliaferro said. “They definitely surprised me because I wasn’t expecting them to make that transition right away.”

After a fourth place finish a year ago in their final season in the Big East, the Hurricanes head into the toughest soccer conference in America: the ACC. The ACC is ranked No.1 while the Big East was only the fifth best conference in the country. As far as expectations are concerned, Taliaferro can only be worried about her team.

“Since we’ve never played the ACC before and we’ll be going on reputation, we have to focus in on our team and what we’ve been building here over the last couple of years,” Taliaferro said.

Leading the way in the Hurricanes this year will be senior forward Britney Butcher, who finished with three goals and five assists last season. Also in the starting lineup are junior forward Lindsey Yach, who led Miami in scoring a season ago, and sophomore midfielder Sheuneen Ta, who had a very impressive freshman season.

As for the four freshmen to start, goalkeeper Lauren McAdam will replace sophomore Alex Alford, who is still recovering from a foot injury suffered last season. Joining McAdam in the lineup are forward Akilah Moore, midfielder Lindsay Curtin and forward Cynthia Dongo.

The schedule won’t be favorable to the Hurricanes, as they not only have to compete in the ACC but also face tough non-conference opponents. After starting out on the road against George Mason and Virginia last weekend, Miami will host their next seven games, including a Sept. 3 showdown against rival Florida State.

The Hurricanes opened up the season against the Patriots of George Mason last Friday and lost 2-0. The ‘Canes were able to outshoot their opponents 15-6, but it wasn’t enough as the Patriots scored a goal in each half.

“George Mason came out extremely organized and was able to capitalize on the opportunities they had, but overall, I think we played well,” Taliaferro said. “We have to learn to take care of and respond to those same opportunities that we have.”

Doug Kroll can be contacted at d.kroll@umiami.edu.