Nov. 23, 2002
Storrs, CT –
Sunday’s 1:00 p.m. Sweet 16 match-up between No. 4 Connecticut (20-2-1) and No. 21 Florida State (13-6-3) is special for everyone involved with Seminole soccer. It is the program’s second Sweet 16 in three years and the third straight season FSU has been to the NCAA Tournament. It is one of the great turn-arounds of a program in school history and senior forward Cindy Schofield (15G 6A 36P) is right in the middle of the Seminoles’ unprecedented success. When the record-setting striker takes the pitch Sunday, she will get a glimpse of the future she didn’t choose.
Coming out of George Jenkins High School in Lakeland, FL, Schofield was the all-time leading goal scorer in the state of Florida and set the record for the second-most goals scored by any high school player in the nation with 238 in her career. Unlike the recruiting process today when most top players have unofficially committed by Thanksgiving, Schofield had taken just one trip before The Orange Bowl Championship Tournament in Miami played over Christmas. She didn’t even appear on FSU’s radar screen until after Christmas when Patrick Baker took over the program.
“Things were so different when I was being recruited,” remembers Schofield. “In my senior year of high school, I took one official visit during the fall and that was to Auburn. After Christmas, I played pretty well in the Orange Bowl Tournament and Coach Baker had just gotten the job at Florida State and he saw me play. In the spring I took a lot more visits and went to both Connecticut and Florida State.”
The Huskies were a well established national power as they had been to 17-consecutive NCAA Tournaments at the time they were wooing Schofield. The Seminoles had just made a coaching change and Baker was doing everything he could to make-up ground in the recruiting process and trying to sell his vision of FSU soccer to recruits.
“The programs were completely different at the time,” said Schofield. “UConn was already established and at Florida State there was an opportunity to get in on the ground floor and building something special.”
Schofield went to Connecticut first and although the team wasn’t officially practicing yet for their spring season, the senior had a great visit. Despite the snow on the ground, she loved every minute of her time in Storrs, CT.
“UConn was awesome,” said Schofield. “I had a really good recruiting trip. It wasn’t that soccer related but I had a great opportunity to meet the girls and get to know them. I loved it there. The program and coaches were great.”
It wasn’t until a month later that Schofield traveled to Tallahassee and got her first look at the Seminoles. During that time her mind was pretty made up that she would eventually be wearing the white and blue of the Huskies.
“Florida State was my last visit so I was pretty set on going to UConn,” said Schofield. “During that month between visits, UConn stayed in contact but they were great and never pushed me for a decision.”
Despite the feeling that her decision was already set, Schofield did come to Florida State. Once again she had a great time one her visit but there was more to her ultimate decision to bypass a national power for an up-and-comer. It was just a feeling she had.
“When I came on my visit to Tallahassee I knew I fit in here. It was just me. It fit my personality,” said Schofield. “Soon as I came to Tallahassee I knew this is where I wanted to go. I thought about it a little more and then committed to Coach Baker.”
As they say the rest is history and what a history it has been. Schofield is the most storied player to ever wear garnet and gold. She owns every career, season and postseason record in FSU soccer history. She has put together back-to-back seasons of 15 or more goals, 36 or more points and six or more assists. She has been in the top two for goals scored in the ACC in back-to-back seasons and in the top three for points in 2001 and 2002 in the nation’s most powerful soccer conference.
After setting every single season record in school history in 2001, the senior is having an even bigger impact in 2002. Last season, Schofield scored goals versus three Top 20 teams, three ACC squads and four teams that made the NCAA Tournament but none of those goals came in the tournament itself. In 2002, the All-American candidate has scored goals versus seven Top 20 teams, five ACC foes and eight teams that made the NCAA Tournament. On top of that, Florida State is 9-3-0 in games in which Schofield records a goal.
She has continued her phenomenal play in the 2002 NCAA Tournament. She has recorded a game-winning goal and an assist in each of the Tribe’s first two matches. Schofield now has six points in the tourney and is the fourth leading scorer in the postseason. She is currently ahead of every Hermann Award finalist in NCAA Tournament scoring except for Portland’s Christine Sinclair. She has more points than Christine Welsch (Penn State), Aly Wagner (Santa Clara), Susan Bush (UNC), Alyssa Ramsey (UNC), Kim Patrick (Tennessee) and Marcia Wallis (Stanford) in 2002 NCAA Tournament play.
She would love for that streak to continue when she sees the Huskies for the first time since her recruiting trip almost five years ago. Florida State and UConn have never played before and it is something Schofield never dreamed would happen when she was in the midst of the recruiting process especially a meeting for the right to go to the Elite Eight.
“I never even considered the two schools crossing paths,” said Schofield. “During recruiting I knew FSU would one day get to the point where the school was playing in Sweet 16 but I never dreamed it would happen as quickly as it did.
“I think the Sweet 16 will be a little more special for me considering what happened back then. It will be in the back of my mind. It won’t play a huge role because all I am focusing on is the fact that we are within 90 minutes of a possible trip to the Elite Eight.”
Has the Sweet 16 trip to Storrs made Schofield think about any ‘what ifs…’? The senior says it has never crossed her mind.
“It hasn’t crossed my mind once. Not even my freshman year did I think about what if I had gone to UConn,” said Schofield.
While Schofield may never have thought about that, Seminole soccer fans sure are glad she didn’t.
The Seminoles had their one and only practice session of the weekend on the UConn campus Saturday and then will take a tour of the ESPN Studios in Bristol, CT later this afternoon. Check back to www.semionoles.com Sunday when our “Inside the Sweet 16” series wraps up and make sure to tune in to our live stats broadcast of the Seminoles/Huskies Sweet 16 match-up.