As the wind picked up during the second half of Thursday night’s matchup, so did Miami’s offense.
The Hurricanes scored all their goals in the final 45 minutes in a much needed 3-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers at Cobb Stadium. This marked the Hurricanes’ first win in ACC play and ended a seven-game losing streak that started Sept. 21.
Senior forwards Grace Rapp and Ronnie Johnson led the way for the Canes (5-9-0, 1-7-0 ACC). Rapp scored twice and Johnson assisted on all three goals. Rapp now has three goals on the year.
“We’ve been waiting for that all season – we just haven’t been able to find each other yet, but I’m happy we did today,” Rapp said on her connection with Johnson.
Coach Mary-Frances Monroe was pleased to see impressive play from two of her leaders.
“Two seniors gearing up for Senior Day on Sunday – it was really nice to see them connect and for Grace to get some more goals this season,” Monroe said after the game.
Miami’s nine blocks and six saves fueled the offense, leading to its fourth shutout of the year.
“They’ve been really solid in the back,” Johnson. “I think it was just the connection between our defense and the midfield that attacked this game.”
The Canes’ defense showed up big time in the 38th minute. Redshirt junior goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce had a diving save off a free kick from Panthers midfielder Alli Higgs, who was just outside the box.
Miami’s offense struggled in the first half to keep up with its defensive production, missing on three shots in the final five minutes of the period. Just seconds before halftime, Rapp’s shot off a cross from freshman forward Michelle Giamportone was blocked by Pittsburgh (3-10-3, 0-7-1 ACC).
“You could definitely tell that we needed a bit of confidence,” Rapp said.
Sophomore midfielder Lauren Markwith gave the Hurricanes that confidence with a header in the 48th minute that came off a Johnson corner kick.
Rapp smashed the ball off a pinpoint pass into the box from Johnson to make it 2-0 in the 63rd minute. Rapp put the game out of reach with the final goal in the 87th minute.
“We did a really good job with our combination play,” Monroe said on what made the difference in the game compared to previous weeks. “I talked about that in training this week – trying to combine around players. Last few games, I feel like we had some good attacking moments, but today we decided to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Johnson said she was happy with the team’s play overall.
“Those last two goals were really a team effort,” she said. “We combined and so many people touched the ball. It was really great to see.”
There was more than one reason to celebrate after the win. It was Tullis-Joyce’s birthday and after the game, the team gathered around to sing to her.
Tullis Joyce, a native of Shoreham, New York, has a chance to finish second in UM history for least goals allowed in a season. The first-place number is 16 – a record she set in 2016. She has allowed just 17 goals on the season with two games left to play.
As to what the win means for the rest of the season, Monroe said it’s a positive that the team is going into Senior Day on Sunday, Oct. 22.
“The team wants to play for its seniors,” she said. “They also want to play for themselves, and we want to end our season with three wins.”
Miami plays its final home game of the season against Notre Dame at noon that Sunday.