Canes Futbol Ready For 2021 Season
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – With classes about to get underway on the campus of the University of Miami, that can only mean one thing – the 2021 soccer season is here.
The Hurricanes will put an experienced unit on the pitch on Sunday as Miami brings back nine of its 11 starters from a season ago. Seven of the Canes’ eight goal scorers from 2020 are back in the fold and both keepers are set to return for Miami.
“We’re excited to open the season against a talented in-state opponent,” head coach Sarah Barnes said. “Our returners have been challenged in numerous ways throughout their time at Miami and they’re bringing the newcomers together. This group is committed to being relentless on the field and are pushing each other to build the program. They commit to the count and have expectations that every member of Miami Soccer will put in the work every single day.”
While the Canes’ roster boasts 20 returners, the bulk of the Miami roster is made up of underclassmen, including 10 sophomores and eight freshmen.
“Our team this year is mostly dominated by underclassmen, so we’ve been very focused on getting to know how the young ones play and how we can all work together as a unit,” senior Selena Fortich said. “I’m very excited to see everyone grow and gain confidence after each game. We have a lot of talent and I’m excited for the success we can have.”
The Hurricanes will face some stiff competition during the 2021 campaign as they will face six NCAA Tournament teams from 2020, including three opponents who advanced to the Final Four a season ago.
However, to be the best, you have to beat the best and that is something that Fortich knows.
“My end goal for the season is to make the tournament,” Fortich said. “But before that, I would like to see us have a winning season and be more competitive in the ACC.”
The Canes have put in immense work during the offseason to prepare for the 2021 season, including playing three exhibition matches over the last couple weeks. Miami posted a victory over Barry, a tie against Florida Gulf Coast and a loss to UCF in the preseason.
“Every player did their part in keeping up with fitness and getting touches on the ball in the offseason,” Tucker said. “I am proud of the effort being put it by everyone and this will allow us to head into the right direction for the fall. I can already tell that we are a completely different team than last season and we are all very excited to get after it in our first game against FAU.”
But more important than conditioning or results, the Canes had the opportunity to play together for the first time as a full team, learning each other’s strengths and tendencies.
“Over the past few weeks it has been exciting to see the team grow and mesh together,” Fortich said. “From our first exhibition game to our last, we have made improvements in getting forward and being aggressive in the attack to create more dangerous opportunities. I am excited to continue to see us progress and have success.”
The team chemistry will be important for the Canes, especially during non-conference play as three of Miami’s six non-conference opponents were picked to win their respective leagues (FAU, Lipscomb and USF).
A lot of that chemistry was formed during the summer months.
“During the offseason, the majority of the team was able to get together in the summer and get to know one another on and off the field,” junior Emma Tucker said. “We were able to form a strong bond, which has helped create a fun environment for everyone and I think this will help our play on the field.”
For Tucker and the Canes, the journey to the postseason begins on Sunday, Aug. 22 when Miami hosts Florida Atlantic in the regular season opener at Cobb Stadium.
“Going into the first game of the season, the team’s mentality is to come out and play our game and execute the way we want,” Tucker said. “Everyone has been putting in the work and it has been showing in practices and exhibitions games. It is important for us to remain calm and composed on the ball and, if we do that, then we will be very successful.”
The Canes are 9-8 all-time against the Owls and boast a 36-26 edge in the all-time goal differential.
Sunday’s match will kick off at 6 p.m. and will air on ACC Network Extra.
Miami Athletics is planning for fan attendance at Cobb Stadium in accordance with campus protocols. Please be advised that these protocols remain subject to change.