CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The University of Miami women’s soccer team returns to Cobb Stadium looking to snap a two-game skid with a pair of matches in front of its home crowd. Kickoff for Thursday’s contest against visiting NC State is set for 7 p.m., while Sunday’s showdown against No. 5 North Carolina will kick off at 1 p.m.
Despite falling on their opening conference road trip to No. 12 Duke and No. 7 Wake Forest, head coach Mary-Frances Monroe says her Hurricanes are now better prepared for the grueling ACC schedule ahead of them.
“There are some things we saw that were very good, but you have to play for 90 minutes if you want to earn a victory or draw, and to find success in general,” she said. “There were glimpses of things we were doing well, but I think we have to put the whole package together – especially when we’re playing some of the best teams in the country.”
The Hurricanes (5-2-0, 0-2-0 ACC) looked far from outmatched in their conference opener, and could have been leading the Blue Devils by halftime if not for a missed penalty kick and a shot pinged off the crossbar. Senior Tara Schwitter’s penalty attempt was saved by Duke goalkeeper Ali Kershner, while a 34th-minute strike from sophomore Jasmine Paterson beat Kershner but connected off the framework.
“I give both Duke and Wake Forest a lot of credit – both teams have fantastic individual players and play collectively as a team,” Monroe said. “It wasn’t all negative for us last weekend by any means. We’ve been focusing on being plugged in for 90 minutes.”
Even after the two losses, Monroe says her team looked motivated during training sessions heading into Thursday’s match.
“We talked to our leaders of the group – not just seniors, some younger leaders as well - about really keeping the atmosphere positive,” Monroe said. “We have to be hungry and we have to want to compete.”
The Hurricanes emerged victorious against NC State last season on the road in Raleigh, N.C., and are riding an unbeaten streak against the Wolfpack (6-2-0, 1-1-0 ACC) that dates back to the 2006 season. For Miami to continue the impressive trend, Monroe says the team – notably senior defender Blake Stockton – must stay vocal and energetic.
“Blake and I have had great conversations about getting our team to play with energy consistently,” Monroe said. “There are definitely times when we do it well, but there are also lulls in the game. Her challenge is to keep the team’s energy flowing – and that’s tiresome when you’re a centerback and already have so much responsibility.”
Monroe and her staff are looking forward to watching their team compete under the lights at Cobb Stadium, where Miami is unbeaten in its last four matches dating back to the 2012 season.
“Coming back home and playing our first ACC games of the season in front of our home crowd - family, fans, students, colleagues - I think it’s special,” Monroe said. “We have to go out and get three points Thursday, especially at home.”