1-4 To The Final Four
By Elliott Finebloom
“1-4 To The Final Four” became the mantra for the 2003 Seminole soccer team and the phrase was thrown around in huddles on the field and in newspapers after FSU beat Florida to advance to the 2003 College Cup. It was a catchy phrase but to the players, coaches and staff it represented so much more. If you sit back and really think about starting 1-4 and making it to the final four, it is an amazing story.
To the Seminole soccer program “1-4 To The Final Four” represents so many feelings. It is about the feeling in our stomach after the 3-1 loss to Kansas dropped us to 1-4. It represents that overtime goal versus Mississippi that signaled to everybody that this team had turned a corner. It meant a long throw-in in a Maryland game represented a win rather than a loss. It even captured the disappointment and hope that came with a crushing last minute defeat to a great Virginia team.
That one little slogan represented how it felt to move to 3-1 in the ACC with a decisive win over Duke and the squad’s third straight regular season win over Clemson. It was about seeing team captain Kristin Boyce carried off the field after scoring the game-winner versus the Tigers and every player knowing it was up to them to pick up the slack and fill an almost unfillable void. It captured the heart of a team that took the field without their captain for the first time in four years yet held Wake Forest without a goal for 110 minutes in a stadium where FSU had been outscored 12-5 just four days after seeing Boyce’s career come to an end.
“1-4 To The Final Four” was about going into the hornet’s nest of an undefeated North Carolina squad to end the regular season and play what is considered one of the great UNC teams scoreless for over 60 minutes. It was the feeling we all had down on the field after the win over Maryland knowing we had another shot at the Heels. This time with the ACC Championship on the line. It was about the Great Wall of Chocolate that night and the anticipation the next day. Most importantly it represented this team overcoming the fear that used to be attached with playing UNC. A fear that may have existed as recently as 2001 when we faced them for the first time in an ACC Championship.
“1-4 To The Final Four” is the feeling we all had when Kelly put us up 1-0 over the Heels and when she took back the lead again 20 minutes later. It was watching that clock tick down with FSU closing in on realizing a dream nobody thought we could accomplish and then watching that dream slip away with four minutes left. It was about a confidence gained that day when PB told us all to look around because where we were standing was the exact same place the College Cup was going to be held and him asking each of you to believe you could be back there.
It was more than a slogan to us. It was about Amber Tollefson lifting us up versus Auburn on two occasions and making sure none of us saw our season end before the Sweet 16 and not having 2003 come to a close our own field. Those five words were about Amber’s love for all of us and stand for everything that makes Amber a person we all wanted to do everything we could to take her back to Cary.
If you want to know what “1-4 To The Final Four” was all about just watch the last 25 seconds of the game versus West Virginia. It means never panicking and never losing faith in your teammates. That was never more evident than when Katie deliberately and calmly tracked down a clearance and then precisely launched it over 30 yards and right on to the foot of Jez. It was Jez taking an incredible touch to send Leah in behind the WVU defense. It represented the inches that measure how far shots often miss their mark but not this time. It was all the pressure of the world on a sophomore’s shoulders but it was about Leah not feeling any of it. For all the near misses and dreams crushed under the pressure of a situation, Leah made it. It may not be Spanish but “1-4 To The Final Four” also meant Casa Bonita to us.
“1-4 To The Final Four” is going into Gainesville in front of 3432 fans and hearing the Seminole chant drowned out the Gator chomp. It stands for dominating a higher ranked, higher seeded rival on their on pitch in their own stadium for 90 minutes in the biggest game in your program’s history. It is about rising to the occasion and smothering your opponent not just because you are more talented but because you want it more than they do. It represents the feeling you have when that final whistle blows and you realize what you have done and where you have done it. It is the look of pure joy on the faces of 22 student athletes who know they have done something special and realized that they are going back to Cary, NC and taking the entire university’s spirits with them.
To me, “1-4 To The Final Four” meant displaying an inner love for one another and a passion that only we knew was there. It was about trust and sacrifice and memories that will last a lifetime. It was about shocking the soccer world and doing it with people that have suffered, sweated and worked with you for 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 115 straight days. It was about playing for each other and sending Amber and Boyce off right.
“1-4 To The Final Four” was about sitting in that tent after the UConn game and choking back the tears. Watching Amber cry as she told the media that every player on this team is not only her best friend but a champion as well. It was about fighting, succeeding, failing and being better off for the journey. Yeah, “1-4 To The Final Four” was more than a slogan to me.