Taylor Shell’s late heroics lift Miami over Florida for first time since 2012

Canes Women’s Soccer players huddle up before their match versus FAU at Cobb Stadium on Aug. 22, 2021
Canes Women’s Soccer players huddle up before their match versus FAU at Cobb Stadium on Aug. 22, 2021 Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Over 99 minutes of heated, physical soccer elapsed in Gainesville, Florida, on Sunday afternoon.

Both Miami and Florida combined for 28 fouls, 23 shots and 11 corners, but neither of the Sunshine State rivals could manage a scoring play inside Donald R. Dizney Stadium.

The war of attrition at last ended when junior midfielder/defender Taylor Shell exemplified UM’s newly adopted relentless mentality.

Following a yellow card issued to Florida defender Anna DeLeon, the Hurricanes (2-1) capitalized on their final golden opportunity. Shell darted downfield toward the penalty mark and netted a 99th minute goal into the bottom left corner to deliver UM its first win over Florida since 2012.

While the Gators (0-3-1) totaled seven shots on goal prior to Miami’s only in extra time, goalkeeper Melissa Dagenais continued to dazzle in goal. The junior totaled a match-high seven saves and held a clean sheet for the second time in three matches.

Dagenais collected her final save off a free kick that was rejected away from the top-center region to keep UM above the surface as the final five minutes of the second half ticked away.

Shell and Dagenais teamed up to deny UF a pair of chances in the 69th minute, while the Hurricanes moved closer towards an advantage two minutes later.

Following a yellow card — Florida’s first and only of the second half — to forward Kouri Peace, midfielder/forward María Jakobsdóttir stood inches from her first goal of the season in the 61st minute. The native of Garðabær, Iceland, watched her shot trail high, nonetheless. Florida forward Kit Loferski — the Gators’ leading goal scorer — stood free and fired a shot in the 93rd minute, though had it blocked by Miami’s defense in the penalty box.

Although her third shot had missed in the 61st minute, Jakobsdóttir fed Shell for her first of 2021.

Shell’s match-clinching goal came after leading UM with three shots on goal in Thursday’s 2-0 home defeat versus Lipscomb of the ASUN conference.

With its third win in the Swamp across 11 all-time meetings, Miami pivots towards another Southeastern Conference opponent in Missouri on the road Thursday. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.