RE: “Soccer suffers through an abysmal season,” 11/5

As a former member of the women’s soccer team, I am both disgusted and upset over its record this year. I offer no excuses for their performance; however, I do believe that if you are going to publicly scrutinize an individual over the performance of a group, you might want to give an accurate portrayal of the situation. So let me offer Darren Grossman a little free education.

I concede that the Big East Tournament records Grossman cites in his column are accurate, but he fails to mention that the women’s soccer team never escaped the Big East quarterfinals in its tenure in that conference. He also fails to mention that Tricia Taliaferro, not Jim Blankenship, coached the soccer team to victories over highly-ranked opponents within the Big East (UConn and BC) and led the team to its highest-ever regular season finish in conference play (2nd).

Grossman dwells on scoring disparities against teams like UNC, Duke and Virginia, yet he ignores that these are three of the best teams in the country. And by the way, we lost by more than two goals to lesser teams under Blankenship.

Grossman’s column states that Taliaferro is playing with her “own” players now, but in reality the only players on the team she has recruited are freshmen and sophomores who are hardly in a position to lead the team. If Grossman were to look at those game tapes he so desperately wants to watch with Paul Dee, he will see many of these young kids are talented players, and older players are just now picking up a new system of play. Grossman might also want to note that the team lost four players to season-ending injuries, including one who still managed an All-ACC selection; and cancelled or rescheduled several games due to the tumultuous hurricane season.

I enjoyed playing for both Blankenship and Taliaferro, and continue to maintain close relationships with them. When Blankenship left UM, the women’s soccer team turned into a fractured group of individuals. Taliaferro came to UM and brought this team back together. The current team cares about each like family, it participates in the community more each year and show greater dedication to spreading its sport than the teams before it. Taliaferro did not have an easy job this year. Her competitive spirit is greater than almost anyone I know and this year easily could have driven her insane, but she continued working hard through the season. I understand Grossman’s frustration with the women’s soccer team this year, but if he is going to publish that frustration, he might want to include all the facts. He might also admit that the whole team is responsible for performance, and some things just cannot be controlled.

Of course, he might know these things if he actually played a sport.

Rachel Elsby

Ph.D. student