MILWAUKEE – The University of Miami women’s soccer team maintained its perfect start to the season in dramatic fashion Sunday, defeating host Wisconsin-Milwaukee 2-1 on a double-overtime golden goal from Betsy Middleton.
The visitors needed extra time for a second consecutive match, but pulled through on a broken play that the freshman midfielder finished with veteran poise. A deflected cross from sophomore Jasmine Paterson made its way to Middleton on the fringes of the box, and the North Carolina native slotted it past Panthers keeper Paige Lincicum on the far post for the 105th-minute winner.
“It feels unbelievable,” Middleton said after the match. “I knew that I needed to do something as the only replacement on the field in double overtime. It was just a surreal moment.”
Head coach Mary-Frances Monroe, who has opened her career on the Miami sidelines in spectacular fashion, was proud of her “super sub” for the late winner. Monroe said she chatted with Middleton before the game about expectations heading into the match.
“She’s probably our most technical player,” Monroe said. “She comes from a great club and has a great understanding of the game. When we put her in, things started to calm down. It was a fantastic goal. I’m really impressed she was able to score from that angle.”
Though play was choppy for both clubs at times throughout the contest, the Hurricanes (3-0-0) came through with another win – a positive trend for a Miami side with nine points in its first three matches.
“I think it’s really important that we know it wasn’t a pretty game,” Monroe said. “I give Milwaukee a huge amount of credit. They played a great game and at times it was hard to get the ball from them. They’re a great team and going to be really successful this year.”
Middleton, who delivered the decisive overtime cross on Ashley Flinn’s winner last Sunday against Jacksonville, was the catalyst for late heroics once again.
“We all wish we could finish these games earlier,” Middleton said. “When it comes to making those final plays, in my mind, all I’m thinking is that I want to do everything for the team. The cross, the goal - it all comes with that attitude.”
The Hurricanes jumped out to a lead for the third consecutive match, as Tara Schwitter’s relentless pace on a long ball from fellow senior Blake Stockton helped give Miami a 1-0 advantage. The Oradell, N.J., native beat her defender and chipped past Lincicum to give her side the lead two minutes shy of halftime.
“Tara made a great attacking run and was able to get a good touch on the ball,” Monroe said. “It was a great effort. She wants to be so involved, especially on the attacking end. It was great composure for her on the finish.”
After coming on for junior Emily Lillard at halftime for the second consecutive match, freshman goalkeeper Catalina Perez allowed the first goal of her young career on an equalizer in the 63rd minute. Perez scrambled to the top of the box to deny an opportunity to Panthers midfielder Kelsey Holbert, but Morgan LaPlant collected a loose rebound in the box and easily finished into an empty net to level the score at 1-1.
The remainder of the second half was marked with emotion, as both Stockton and Monroe were issued yellow cards – the first two of Miami’s season. The Hurricanes’ forward tandem of Paterson and junior Ashley Flinn threatened up top, but Middleton finished the visitors’ first real scoring threat of the extra periods.
“Getting three points on the road is crucial,” Monroe said. “It’s always harder when you’re going into someone else’s home. We prepared them as much as we could. Having this up-and-down schedule - with different travel and dates, being away for three days here - they really stepped up and came in ready to play.”
The Hurricanes return to Cobb Stadium for a match with Cleveland State Friday, Sept. 6. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.