Turning it Around

Entering its second season of play in the always competitive Atlantic Coast Conference, Miami women’s soccer hopes to rebound from a disheartening 2004 season in which the Hurricanes finished last in the ACC.

With 12 letter winners and 10 starters returning from last year, the ‘Canes, under fourth-year Head Coach Tricia Taliaferro, are hoping to build on the experience learned in their inaugural ACC season.

Taliaferro said there is much to learn from the team’s 3-13 record last year.

“I think having already gone through a season like last year, we will now have the experience to know how to recover and we will be much more prepared for this level of competition,” she said.

Experience could prove to be the x-factor for the ‘Canes this season after being outscored last year 37-13 overall and 15-2 in the first half of games.

During the off-season coaches emphasized setting mental and long-term goals, a technique that seems to be productive, with many players determined to make an extra effort to train harder to create team unity.

“We were really disappointed with last year’s outcome,” sophomore Akilah Moore said.

“This off season a lot of our team came back early and worked real hard with our strength coaches. Everyone seems to have a focus and a common goal in mind to come back and win.”

More time on the practice field could lead to much needed size, speed and physicality for the Hurricanes.

“We need to always be attacking and playing with an edge,” Taliaferro said. “It will take more than just scoring goals. It will take teamwork and a strong group mentality on and off the field to win.”

Senior Ashley Durkee has already noticed a strong bond develop between the team, including the 15 underclassmen and nine true freshmen who have joined over the past few weeks.

“I’m excited about the season,” Durkee said. “We have one of the best freshman classes coming in and we have been playing better than we ever have. The passes are crisp and you can notice a lot of team chemistry on the field.”

The Hurricanes got off on the right foot on Sunday, defeating Monmouth 4-0 at Cobb Stadium. Red-shirt sophomore Rebecca Tweneboah, a transfer from Notre Dame, had a goal and two assists. Freshmen Tessa Lennala, Meghan McKinsey and Bryn Heinicke combined for three goals and two assists.

Women’s soccer will play tonight at 7 p.m. against Stetson at Cobb Stadium.

Mike Holt can be contacted at m.holt1@umiami.edu.