Defense key in opening win

The women’s soccer team opened the Hurricanes’ athletic season Friday night with an inspiring 2-0 win over their in-state rivals, the UCF Golden Knights.

After finishing their 2005 season with an 8-11-1 record, the ‘Canes were poised and ready to start off the new season on the right foot. They did exactly that on Friday, applying stifling defensive pressure and keeping UCF from scoring a goal.

“I think the advantage that we had is that we played them last year, so we had an idea of what to expect,” said Head Coach Tricia Taliaferro, referring to last year’s 2-1 overtime win.

After setting the tone with pressure defense in the first half, the Hurricanes responded offensively with two goals in the second half.

The first goal came late in the game off of a free kick just outside of the penalty box from midfielder Jenna Levenson.

Levenson, who is a transfer student from the University of Florida, made an immediate impact in her first game as a Hurricane, pushing the ball on the offensive end and setting up scoring opportunities.

As far as Levenson’s transition to UM is concerned, she seems to be enjoying herself so far.

“So far, I like it,” she said. “I love the coaches here. It’s a completely different atmosphere, and it’s a good move.”

Coach Taliaferro considers Levenson to be a very welcome addition to the team, saying that she thanked her for making the decision to come to Miami.

“[Levenson] brings a little bit of an edge,” Taliaferro said. “She sets the rhythm for us, she’s the worker bee. She’s the engine right now for us.”

The second Hurricane goal came in the final minute. After Bryn Heinicke got the ball on a breakaway, she passed it to Rachael Rigamat by the right post, who dodged UCF goalkeeper Jennifer Manis to score the insurance goal with 30 seconds left in the game.

The team hopes to build on their superior defense throughout the season. The defensive pressure was no coincidence, though. Taliaferro said she worked on defense with the team all preseason.

“I was happy in the first half with our defending,” Taliaferro said. “I think the difference in the second half was more people involved on the attack. Where we ended the last 45 minutes was what I’d want to carry on.”

As far as the rest of the season is concerned, Taliaferro said that she wants the team to go undefeated against all other Florida teams and have a good showing against teams in their region, since that would help their chances of making this year’s NCAA Tournament. The team also hopes to perform well in ACC competition, where it finished 2-8 last season.

“I definitely expect to make it to the ACC Tournament,” Levenson said. “One of our team goals is to be in the top five in the ACC, so hopefully we’ll be able to accomplish that.”

Taliaferro promised that the student body can expect more exciting play from the soccer team for the remainder of the year.

“We’re fast, and we have more of an attitude of scoring goals,” Taliaferro said. “We’re going to try to make it exciting.”

Joel Brown may be contacted at