Cane battles back from lost season

Last season, the University of Miami’s women’s soccer team went 9-6-5 and made it to the first round of the NCAA tournament for only the second time in the program’s history.

Times were tough, however, for junior midfielder Paulelett Ricks-Chambers, who had to watch it all from the sidelines.

Ricks-Chambers was in and out of the hospital for health reasons that were never fully understood and was granted a redshirt year.

In 2006, before her injury, she finished second on the team in goals and scoring.

“It was really difficult to watch, but I was really proud of my team,” Ricks-Chambers said. “I wanted to help keep up the success.”

She and the Hurricanes started this season on a seven-game win streak, a program record.

“I saw how much I missed the game of soccer when I was out, so that was my motivation,” the 5’4″ California native said. “I wanted to get back to playing and show all the people who said that I couldn’t do it. I trained really hard over the summer.”

With her rehabilitation, she was unable to visit her three older brothers. As a kid, they always pushed her to eat right and kicked a ball around with her. But in the first road game of the season, against Arkansas-Little Rock, all the hard work paid off as she connected on her first goal since her comeback. The Canes went on to win the game 3-0.

“It felt great, and I wanted to keep going from there,” Ricks-Chambers said.

With senior forward Rachael Rigamat’s nagging leg injury, No. 5 now often plays forward and acts as a spark on offense with her speed.

She has started all 14 games and has two goals and two assists.

“Paulelett is a special player,” head coach Tricia Taliaferro said. “She’s better than she was before the injury, and she feeds off energy and more game experience.”

As a teammate, Ricks-Chambers acts as a role model to the younger players, who have adopted her work ethic and desire to improve.

“She represents everything this team is about – the hard work and the determination,” Taliaferro said. “Having her back on the field is such a motivator for our team.”

Her experience will be needed now more than ever with the team facing a seven-game winless streak heading into Sunday’s home match against 11th-ranked Florida State (9-2-1, 3-1-0 ACC).

Despite this, the Hurricanes (7-5-2) need just two victories to tie last season’s total with, six matches left before the ACC tournament.

When asked if she would pursue a career in soccer after Miami, the elementary education and history major seemed to know where she wants her future to be after battling back:

“I think I’m going to hang up my cleats after, hopefully, my five years here,” she said.

October 8, 2008


Anna Timmons

Editor In Chief

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.