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Published 09/05/2013
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Soccer Set for Final Non-Conference Weekend

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- The University of Miami women’s soccer team will look to extend its winning streak to four straight matches Friday when Cleveland State arrives to Cobb Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Under the direction of first-year head coach Mary-Frances Monroe, the Hurricanes (3-0-0) have opened the season with flair. Bolstered by its flawless start, Miami was listed at No. 30 in the most recent rankings released Monday.

Three matches into their first campaign at the helm, Monroe and her staff split the week between training and reviewing video ahead of two final non-conference contests. And with Miami’s opening ACC weekend looming, one that includes road tilts with No. 13 Duke (Sept. 12) and No. 11 Wake Forest (Sept. 15), Monroe knows the importance of making tweaks and adjustments over the next three days.

“We talked to certain players specifically on what they need to work on,” Monroe said. “The highlight of the week has been paying attention to details and the way small things matter in the bigger picture.”

One of the staff’s main focal points was capitalizing on early opportunities. Miami has needed dramatic overtime periods for its last two victories – a 3-2 decision on the road at Jacksonville (Aug. 25) and a 2-1 final against Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Sept. 1). Monroe would like to see her team make decisive plays much earlier than Betsy Middleton’s golden goal against the Panthers five minutes into double overtime.

“They really can’t wait to get into ACC play, where a lot of teams are ranked in the top 20 in the country,” Monroe said. “So reminding them that they have to get through this schedule on a game-by-game basis is critical. We want to put teams away early, and we have the capability of doing so.”

Following up a golden goal from Ashley Flinn against Jacksonville, Middleton was the most recent Hurricane to deliver late-match heroics. The Elon, N.C., native neatly finished off a broken cross for a 2-1 victory over the host Panthers last Sunday.

Middleton is just one member of a talented freshmen class making differences in the early going.

“I knew Betsy before coming to Miami, and always thought she was a great technical player,” Monroe said. “It’s nice to see how she has evolved to the player she is today.”

Other freshmen, including Gianna Dal Pozzo and Gracie Lachowecki, have also contributed to the early returns. Monroe said other younger players hobbled by injures will also earn playing time this weekend.

“It doesn’t matter to me what year you are,” Monroe said. “Every single player is an important piece to the puzzle. A lot of players will have opportunities to prove themselves and earn time. I think they have to do the most they can with the time they’ve earned.”