With a solid fourth place standing in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Miami Hurricanes (6-1-0) begin conference play on Thursday in Raleigh against NC State. The ‘Canes will then face No.5 North Carolina on Sunday in Chapel Hill.
Though the Hurricanes face a stiff test against both teams, Head Coach Tricia Taliaferro believes the squad has been playing well enough to head into enemy territory and return with a pair of victories, as long as they stay focused.
“We need to come sharp. NC State and UNC are both very good, so we have to raise it up a level,” Taliaferro said. “We need the same intensity that we’ve been putting out every game so far.”
Taliaferro refers to the same intensity that has seen the Hurricanes tie the 2001 school record for the best record through seven games. Since their 2-1 loss to Florida Atlantic in double overtime on Sept. 8, Taliaferro reveals that the girls have realized that staying focused throughout the entire match is just as important as netting goals.
“Against FAU, we were ahead. We outplayed them, but we just let the win slip away,” Taliaferro said. “As far as holding on to a lead, we’ve learned to focus and come out on top. We’ve learned better game management, which will help us to get in the right mind frame for the ACC conference.”
The Hurricanes hope to erase memories from last season’s losses to both squads.
Against NC State (7-1-2), the Hurricanes will face a very physical team, intent on forcing many turnovers with its plucky defense. UM will also have its hands full with the Wolf Pack’s slashing midfielder Jessica O’Rourke, who has already scored six goals this season.
UM must be careful to commit as few turnovers as possible against the Tar Heels (8-1-0). In their nine matches so far, UNC has proven to be ferocious on both offense and defense whenever opponents have slipped up. Up to this point, UNC has only allowed three goals, while shutting out opponents in seven different contests.
Though Taliaferro acknowledges the skill and craftiness of both squads, she is not at all discouraged or fazed. She believes the ‘Canes have the capacity to upset both squads on the road.
On offense, the Hurricanes have had seven different players net goals, while only allowing four goals this season.
“NC State is aggressive and scrappy. They’re rough and in your face. They have a great record, so we expect them to be one of our hardest games. As far as UNC, we know they take chances and press numbers, so they’ll try to test us quickly,” Taliaferro said. “We just need to build on what we’ve been doing, how we’ve been playing. We don’t really want to change anything.”
Victor R. Rodriguez may be contacted at email@example.com.