Following a crushing overtime loss to Missouri last week, the Canes (3-2) bounced back against their crosstown rivals Thursday, beating the FIU Panthers, 3-0.
Miami relentlessly pressured FIU throughout, creating a fast-paced match. The Panthers (1-6), however, stood their ground and played physical soccer the whole 90 minutes, picking up 12 fouls in the process.
The Canes eventually proved to be too much for the Panthers and netted three goals on 17 shots and 11 shots on goal. It was the most goals Miami scored in a game so far this year.
Miami head coach Sarah Barnes continued to experiment with the starting lineup on Thursday, starting freshman Lauren Meeks for the first time. The fourth-year coach wants to achieve a balance between the veterans and young players on the field.
“We have some good depth, a lot of players that can give us minutes,” Barnes said. “So, we’re just trying to find a squad rotation where, honestly, we don’t have too many inexperienced players on the field all at the same time.”
Barnes’ experiment seemed to pay off. In the first half, Miami had several opportunities in the penalty box, keeping FIU goalkeeper Ithaisa Vinoly active in the box. Canes midfielder Jackie Koerwitz had a fantastic shot after nutmegging a defender, but Vinoly made a terrific save.
And then, in the 25th minute, Miami scored – something it hasn’t done in any first half this season. It was Meeks who broke the deadlock, scoring her first career goal with the Canes. Fellow freshman Maya Rogers assisted her.
“I think she just did a good job of being composed because I think there was a deflection. She hit it, and then they blocked it, and then had the composure to follow up and hit it again,” Barnes said.
The Canes continued to have an abundance of chances in the second half, too. In the 68th minute, UM scored again when midfielder Jackie Koerwitz headed it home off a corner kick by Gabriela Rusek.
Shortly after, forward Gudrun Haralz sealed the match off a pass from fellow Icelander Maria Jakobsdottir to put the Canes ahead, 3-0, in the 75th minute.
“I thought we did a pretty good job, in the second half in particular, at figuring out how to break them down around the edges,” Barnes said on the offensive success. “Then, we started to get better central options once we got it wide to be able to go back in. Once we started to do that consistently, we were able to put a lot more pressure on them, so all of the sudden we were having chance after chance after chance and creating more corner kicks.”
In addition to the offense, the defense continued its stellar performance. FIU mustered only five shots, none of which were on goal.
Next up, the Canes face USF at Cobb Stadium Sunday as they enter the second part of a five-game homestead. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.