Miami goalkeeper Melissa Dagenais continues to excel. Jumping through the air, booting balls far downfield and diving left and right, the 6-foot-1 junior put on a clinic Saturday night, posting seven saves on eight Clemson shots.
“She really took charge of her development after last season and has grown tremendously,” Miami head coach Sarah Barnes said. “In particular, she’s grown from a mental standpoint. You can see that in her presence and the saves she is making. I think she has been outstanding all season long.”
Dagenais kept her team in the match with seven saves. However, it wasn’t enough as the Hurricanes (4-9-0, 1-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) fell to the Clemson Tigers (9-5-0, 4-3 ACC) 1-0 at Cobb Stadium off a dribbler from Clemson forward Maliah Morris in the 80th minute of play.
Despite the loss, Barnes was pleased with her team’s determination.
“I thought the team played outstanding today,” Barnes said. “They were relentless and competed for every ball. From a start-to-finish performance, I thought this was the best they’ve had all season.”
Miami played its heart out all game, but Clemson kept intense pressure on the Hurricanes throughout, as displayed in the first half. The Tigers did not allow a single shot on goal while racking up seven, which Dagenais continued to retrieve.
The second half proved to be much more even, given the Hurricanes’ added pressure. UM had three corner opportunities and a shot on goal, all of which couldn’t find their way in the net. Defensively, better performance was apparent, too, only granting the Tigers a single shot on goal, yet the sole chance proved to be the deciding factor.
Both teams endured physicality as well. Clemson had eight fouls and Hurricanes defenders Delaney Brown and Hallie Salas each received a yellow card in the first half for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Looking ahead, UM must improve on finishing matches, having suffered its fifth shutout of the season at the expense of Clemson.
“Finishing is something that we need to be more precise about in the final third,” Barnes said. “I think some of that is execution and some of that is taking the chances or creating slightly better opportunities. At the end of the day, the difference in the game is they finished their chance and we didn’t.”
Next up, the Canes travel to Blacksburg, Va., to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies on Thursday. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.