Record-breaking crowd at Cobb Stadium not enough

TANYA THOMPSON // The Miami Hurricane
TANYA THOMPSON // The Miami Hurricane

The Miami Hurricanes soccer team kicked off their 2009 season with a 1-0 loss to instate rival No. 8 Florida Gators in front of a record breaking crowd of 2,777 at Cobb Stadium on Friday night. Fans unable to enter the stadium lined the fences along San Amaro Drive to see glimpses of the action.

The electric atmosphere was not enough to propel the Canes past the reigning SEC Champions.

The Hurricanes were unable to get revenge on the Gators since their last meeting when UF eliminated the Canes in the first round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

The lone goal occurred in the opening minutes of the second half when UF senior Ashlee Elliott headed the ball over the hands of sophomore goalie Vikki Alonzo from a perfectly placed cross by fellow senior Tricia Townsend.

“I thought we did everything we possibly could except score the goals,” said eight year Head Coach Tricia Taliaferro. “We got to work on finishing under pressure.”

The match was very competitive as each finished with the same number of fouls (nine) and corner kicks (six) while UM slightly outshot UF 15 to 13.

The Hurricanes had several opportunities throughout but were unable to capitalize.

The Canes’ best chance occurred in the 62nd minute. Junior Brittney Steinbruch was left alone in front of the goalie after stealing the ball from the defender. She placed the ball in the upper right hand corner, but barely missed the net.

Despite the loss, Steinbruch was excited about the massive turnout.

“We never had a crowd like the one we had [Friday]. It was awesome to play in that atmosphere.”

UM’s goalie Vikki Alonzo continued where she left off last year having another solid game saving five shots while just missing out of her 12th career shutout.

This was just the first of many matches against elite competition.

“The Florida game is a great way to prepare,” Taliaferro said. “We’re in one of the best conferences in the country and you really try and get experience where you look for it.”

With a healthy squad and a highly touted freshmen class, the Canes have high hopes for the upcoming season.

“Our expectations are to improve in the NCAA Tournament and in the national ranking. Try and go deeper into the NCAA tournament,” said Taliaferro.

The Canes’ next game is Tuesday August 25th at home against Florida Gulf Coast. First kick is at 7:30 p.m.

Debora Rubi may be contacted at drubi@themiamihurricane.com.