Miami soccer edges Florida Atlantic to open 2021 season

Freshman midfielder Maya Rogers dribbles past FAU forward Kaylin Johnston during the Canes’ match versus FAU at Cobb Stadium on Aug. 22, 2021.
Freshman midfielder Maya Rogers dribbles past FAU forward Kaylin Johnston during the Canes’ match versus FAU at Cobb Stadium on Aug. 22, 2021. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

UM’s women’s soccer team opened a new season on a higher note than the conclusion of its prior one.

Sophomore midfielder Katerina Molina scored the game-winning goal in the second half, junior goalkeeper Melissa Dagenais registered two late saves and Miami outlasted Florida Atlantic, 1-0, on Sunday.

“[Florida Atlantic] is a good team. They’ve got a lot of speed and they’re dangerous,” Miami head coach Sarah Barnes said. “This is a game where you really had to grind it out.”

Both the Hurricanes and the Owls attempted two shots on goal, though Molina’s 47th-minute success— the second goal of her collegiate career — guided Miami (1-0) towards the opening-night victory.

A scoreless affair in the first half kept each squad battling in one another’s zones, until a penalty called on Owls midfielder Sammy Vitols awarded UM a free kick. Molina tapped a short pass from sophomore forward Gabriela Rusek into the top left corner for the one-goal lead.

Sophomore midfielder/forward Katerina Molina embraces teammate Jackie Koerwitz after scoring a goal during the Canes’ match versus FAU at Cobb Stadium on Aug. 22, 2021.
Sophomore midfielder/forward Katerina Molina embraces teammate Jackie Koerwitz after scoring a goal during the Canes’ match versus FAU at Cobb Stadium on Aug. 22, 2021. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

FAU increased its number of shots from three to seven in the second half, while Miami’s defense halted four second-half corner kicks from leveling the match at one goal apiece.

“One thing we’ve talked a lot about is we have to be first to the ball in both boxes,” Barnes said. “The number of times we blocked shots and made it very difficult for them to get clean looks, and that’s a big part of keeping a clean sheet.”

17 total fouls were whistled for over a contest that included a pair of late yellow cards issued to sophomore midfielder Annie Blair and Rusek in the closing 25 minutes. Dagenais collected back-to-back saves in the 68th minute, sealing the Owls’ hopes of answering late, meanwhile.

“I think [Dagenais] has really come into her own and has developed,” Barnes said. We have a really competitive goalkeeper core, so I think it’s just about continuing to sharpen up and be dominant.

Blocking one final FAU shot, the Hurricanes continued persisting in the final two minutes.

“It was a great outcome, but I think the fact that they played so relentlessly [led to the win],” Barnes said. “They were so committed to doing whatever it took to even stop shots from even seeing the goal; I think that was a big part of it.”

Miami will face Lipscomb at home on Thursday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.