December 2, 2005 - by
COUNTDOWN TO THE CUP: FSU and UCLA Square Off In National Semifinal Tonight At 7:30

Dec. 2, 2005



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College Station, TX – If Seminole soccer fans thought things were tough for Florida State (20-3-1) last week at Chapel Hill, meet the UCLA Bruins. The Bruins are 21-1-2 this season and have outscored their four NCAA Tournament opponents 21-0. In the quarterfinals last week they dispatched a sixth-ranked Virginia team that beat FSU twice in 2005. Not only did UCLA eliminate the Cavaliers they handed UVA their worst loss of the season in a crushing 5-0 defeat.

“You don’t beat Virginia by being a bad team,” said FSU Head Coach Mark Krikorian when asked about UCLA. “A 5-0 win is convincing. They are explosive. Their front players in (Kara) Lang, (Iris) Mora and Denesha Adams, who scored four goals versus Virginia, are very good. It will be a hard physical contest. That is what you get at this time of the year.

“(UCLA Head Coach) Jill (Ellis) and her staff have done a great job over the last number of years. They are the veterans of this event. Their talent is all over the place. Good athletic quality, good soccer players, solid goal keeping. There’s no real weakness in that team. They’re organized. We expect that UCLA will be very well coached and the talent that they put on the field will be as good as any team we’ve played all year.”

It is hard to figure what scares you more as a head coach when going up against the Bruins. The Seminoles will have their hands full with a defense that hasn’t allowed a goal in the NCAA Tournament this year and an offense which is averaging more than five goals per game in the NCAA’s.

The Bruins are the highest scoring team in the College Cup. They enter the game with 66 goals on the year but it has been UCLA’s back four that has been most impressive. The Bruins have allowed just eight goals in 24 games and their GAA is just 0.32 on the season.

“I think it is a pride issue,” said UCLA junior defender Mary Castelannelli when asked about the Bruin defense. “We are producing numbers and it is a mentality. If they can’t score, they can’t win.”

While FSU will have its hands full, so will UCLA. Florida State enters the match as the only College Cup team that has defeated a higher-ranked team and they have done it twice. Eliminating North Carolina in Chapel Hill last week boosted the group’s confidence and they will enter Friday night’s match knowing they are capable of playing with any team in the country.

“I think (playing UNC) gave us a little bit of confidence knowing that we can play with arguably one of the best teams in the country and to come out with that result in those conditions,” said senior defender Teresa Rivera who will make her second College Cup start tonight. “We just feel really good about what we’re doing defensively. We felt we made history that night to get to the final four; beating North Carolina at their place, it’s definitely indescribable.”

One of the keys to the game for FSU will be the continued hot play of junior All-America candidate India Trotter. The Ft. Lauderdale, FL native has scored five of the Seminoles eight NCAA Tournament goals. No FSU opponent has held her without a goal yet in the 2005 NCAA Tournament and she is now the all-time leading scorer for FSU in a single NCAA Tournament.

“You know you look at her (Trotter) and you allow her to go out and play, she’s always going to have a good performance,” said Krikorian. “I don’t think that, since I’ve been here, I’ve said India was poor today but we’ve kind of asked more and more and more of her and it continues to be that way everyday. I’m pretty sure one day she’s going to say, alright coach that’s enough, I’m doing all I can. She’s very versatile and now she’s developed a goal scoring mentality which is very hard thing to develop.

“When we first started to work with India it had to be the perfect shot or the perfect time or the ball sitting perfectly on the perfect blade of grass for her to hit the ball. Now she’s taking full volleys out of the air and side volleys and any half chance she can take, she is willing to take and I think that (assistant coach) Mick Statham has done a great job of working with her in her attacking role and finishing and helping her to feel the confidence that she now has. The credit goes to India of course. She just worked and worked and worked every day at practice. It’s just a joy to have her out there and the other good news is that she’s only a junior.”

No two teams have been to the College Cup more times than the Bruins and Seminoles over the last three years. They are the only teams with multiple appearances in the final four since 2003 but both teams are still looking for that first title. Last season the Bruins lost the National Championship to Notre Dame in a PK shootout.

“We want to be the bride instead of the bridesmaid,” said Ellis. “My team last year was very different from my team this year. We had a great run in the tournament and the players, I think at times, we overachieved. This year we have some more experience. The influx of our freshmen I think has given us that added boost. You don’t have a crystal ball but yeah you want to see it happen. You want to see it happen for these guys, for our school and for soccer too.”

“I think being our second College Cup we are a little more experienced than we were in 2003,” said Trotter. “We were very overwhelmed and now it’s like its our second College Cup, why not go out and try to win it.”

Tonight’s FSU match will be broadcast live on ESPNU at 7:30 p.m. EST. There will be a live radio broadcast available at Seminoles.com and live stats will be available on the College Cup website. The winner of the FSU/UCLA game will face either Penn State or Portland Sunday, December 4 live on ESPN2 at 1:00 p.m. EST. Portland is the only team in the College Cup to have won a national title taking home the trophy in 2002.

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