It’s been quite a rollercoaster ride this season for the University of Miami women’s soccer team.
After starting the year with a seven-game winning streak, the Hurricanes suffered an eight-game winless skid.
This weekend at Cobb Stadium, however, Miami (9-6-3, 2-4-2) reasserted itself as a force to be reckoned with in the ACC.
The Canes upset 19th-ranked Wake Forest (10-6-0, 3-5-0) on Senior Day Sunday afternoon by a score of 1-0.
“I think it was fantastic,” head coach Tricia Taliaferro said. “The focus, determination and ability to build off of our last two games were something that we looked at. We have a goal in mind and I think that was displayed here with the extra effort.”
Sophomore defender Brittney Macdonald headed a ball off a corner kick from sophomore forward Lauren Singer in the 43rd minute for the game winner. It was the second goal of the season for the 5’10” Littleton, Colo., native.
“It was good work by [Paulelett Ricks-Chambers] and our forwards to get the corner,” Macdonald said. “We’d been working really hard up to that point in the half. Singer just had a great driven ball to the front post and we’d been practicing that short corner in practice. It was good that it finally paid off.”
After an evenly played first half, the Demon Deacons dominated possession in the second while pressuring offensively and forcing the Hurricanes into 13 fouls.
Freshman goalkeeper Vikki Alonzo recorded four saves for her 10th shutout to extend her school record.
With 12:27 left in the game, Alonzo preserved the victory with a diving save in the air off a shot from inside the box.
“Vikki’s been playing great and her team in front of her has been doing a great job,” Taliaferro said. “They’re not allowing very many easy shots. I think that’s just our style and mentality. We’re very blue collar and play with a lot of heart and a lot of passion.”
On Thursday night, Miami faced ninth-ranked Duke (11-3-2, 3-2-2) and played to a 0-0 double-overtime tie.
As rain fell off and on, both teams played a physical match. Three Canes received yellow cards – Macdonald, senior midfielder Rachael Rigamat and senior captain and defender Corynn Carino.
“Our game is very, very physical,” Carino said. “We rely a lot on that to get us going. When a team tries to out-physical us, we try to match it and play with them.”
From the opening whistle, the Hurricanes and Blue Devils kept each other’s defenses on their toes and applied pressure with a fast-paced game.
Although Duke held a small 17-14 shot advantage, Miami was outshot 6-2 in the two overtimes.
The Blue Devils’ best scoring chance came 56 seconds into the first overtime when senior defender Sheila Kramer took a corner that found junior forward KayAnne Gummersall. Her shot from point blank range was blocked by Alonzo.
“It was a team effort [defensively],” Carino said. “Everybody plays defense on the field. We have a great goalkeeper this year and she just did an awesome job.”
Miami came close to the deciding goal in the second overtime when freshman forward Julianne Rickers’s throw-in bounced into the box for several Hurricanes who couldn’t get hold of the loose ball.
“This was a tough game and it was back and forth the whole time,” Carino said. “I think both teams played equally well.”
A week earlier, the Canes earned a 1-0 double-overtime victory against Clemson (5-8-1, 1-5-1), which snapped the eight-game winless skid.
“I think it was a really good recover period because we had Clemson which was a tough game and traveling is always tough on us,” Carino said. “I think that the week being here and getting back into the weather and everything was really good.”
Miami heads to the road for its final two games of the regular season at 7 p.m. Thursday against N.C. State (8-10-0, 0-8-0) and at 1 p.m. Sunday against No. 2 North Carolina (15-1-1, 8-0-0).
The Hurricanes finished with a record of 6-3-2 at home and will play in the ACC tournament in early November.
“It was our goal to get a win out of this weekend and we accomplished that,” Macdonald said. “Next weekend we’re looking forward to getting another win. Hopefully we can get it done because we’re putting the work in.”