In the number one womens’ soccer conference in America, it is hard to make a move as an upstart program. With North Carolina firmly entrenched as the top program in both the Atlantic Coast Conference and the country, and Florida State and Virginia closely trailing, it seems as though the conference has a permanent ruling class. Just don’t tell that to Miami womens’ soccer Head Coach Tricia Taliaferro.
“The big thing that my assistants and I have found is that there are a lot of one goal games in this conference,” Taliaferro said. “We had five games last year where we fell just one goal short. We need attacking personalities, and we need to finish. The team that can find a consistent goal scorer, or even two or three, will be the one that can move to the top.”
Taliaferro thinks that she has found a good blend of talents for her team this year. After seeing the ways in which many contributed in the spring and in fall practice, Taliaferro believes that she has several players with the ability to rise up and take over a game.
“Lauren McAdam, our goalie, will be a big player for us,” she said. “Sheuneen Ta is an attacking midfielder that just played for Great Britain at the World University Games. Brittney MacDonald and Brittney Steinbruch are two freshmen who have stood out.”
The Hurricanes’ 2007 team is made up of half newcomers and half returning players.
While many would think a team that features so many freshmen and newcomers would be a weakness, Taliaferro sees it as an advantage.
“The returners have been embraced the newcomers, and have been very inviting,” Taliaferro said. “We did a lot of work this spring to cement the foundation, and the transition has been smooth.”
This off-field chemistry has translated onto the field in the fall, according to Taliaferro, as was evident when the Hurricanes dismantled Barry University in their exhibition match on Aug. 19, 9-0 . Five different players scored goals, including three newcomers and two veteran team members, proving that the Hurricanes have a range of scorers to be reckoned with this season.
While all seems to be looking up for the ‘Canes, their peers in the ACC do not seem to share the optimism. Miami was picked to finish last in the ACC in the preseason poll organized by the conference. This has not been lost on the coach or on her players.
“Nobody wants to be at the bottom, but we have done a lot and we have goals,” said Taliaferro. “Where we start the preseason is not important, it’s where we finish that matters. The players have embraced the disrespect and have used it as motivation. They are playing with some attitude right now.”
Dan Stein may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.