Dressed in pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the University of Miami women’s soccer team found themselves lined up against the University of Virginia, the No. 1 ranked team in the nation.
Averaging just under four goals a match, Virginia has consistently been a step ahead of their competition throughout the entirety of their season. That didn’t change against the Canes, as Miami fell 3-0 in the match.
A result that appeared grim at face value was silver-lined by Miami’s on-pitch performance. Despite the loss, the Hurricanes stepped up against the number one team in the nation and had enough bright moments to feel comfortable with the result. Head coach Sarah Barnes maintained a level of satisfaction and positivity when asked about what can be gained from the match.
“I think the team’s improving,” Barnes said. “We are significantly better than we were last year. We’re significantly better than we were three weeks ago.”
Virginia’s first goal came in the second minute of play off of a defensive mistake that was an unflattering start to the match off. Virginia’s Diana Ordonez was able to capitalize on the mistake, bringing her goal-scoring tally to 11 for the season.
Small, quick decisions and moves separated Virginia from the Hurricanes. That first goal that came off a preventable error, while frustrating, didn’t silence the air of hope towards an upset, though. Miami was able to produce solid attacks off the counter. Miami even felt threatening in moments of pace and confidence.
In one of Miami’s better advances, forward Kristina Fisher curled the ball into the 18-yard box off a counter that saw multiple quick decisions and great flow. Virginia responded with a similar play down the right side of the pitch later in the half. In a quick one-two, the Virginia right back saw herself in a convenient position, but the attack was squashed by Miami’s defense
Going into second half with three saves, goalkeeper Tyler Speaks was consistent in the match, where she had to be on edge at all times. Speaks finished the game with six saves, a career-high.
The Canes backline held well against the consistent pressure from Virginia. Speaks and the defenders stepped up on multiple occasions and made numerous goal-saving plays. Despite their performance, Virginia still finished the half with seven shots on goal.
In the second half, it wasn’t long before the Cavaliers struck again, this time off a deflection. After the ball took an awkward bounce, Virginia’s Alexa Spaanstra found herself in a one-on-one with Speaks, who had minimal time to close the gap between her and the attacker, giving up the second goal of the game.
Moving through the second half, the game developed a pattern of Virginia pressuring the Canes, followed by a clear, only to be pressured again moments later. The ongoing cycle of the match was exhausting for a Miami defense that had few breaks from the onslaught of Virginia possession in the attacking third.
“I thought Dejah [Cason] defended incredibly well, Mari [Horpestad] defended well, Selena [Fortich] defended well,” Barnes said of her defense. “The back four were pretty good tonight in a number of ways. I know it doesn’t look like that because there’s a three goal [difference]. I do think they did quite well.”
In the 59th minute, Diana Ordonez notched the third and final goal of the game for the Cavaliers.
Barnes said she felt that her player’s errors hurt them the most.
“We just have to keep learning from them and hope that we don’t continue to make the same errors and that we can keep learning from the errors we do make,” she said. “Hopefully at some point we’ve made them all and we can know what they look like.”
Miami (3-5-2) will head to South Bend, Indiana to face Notre Dame Thursday, Oct. 10 in their fifth ACC game of the season.