March 21, 2001
Tallahassee, FL –
There hasn’t always been too much to celebrate at the annual season-ending soccer banquet at Florida State University. The coaches would show how much they appreciated the team’s hard work, especially the seniors, and everyone’s attention would quickly turn to next season. What a difference a year makes. When the 12th-ranked Seminoles got together at The Silver Slipper restaurant in Tallahassee, FL to hand out its awards for 2000, there were national honors, top 15 rankings and NCAA Tournament appearances to celebrate.
Florida State Director of Athletics Dave Hart and Senior Associate Athletic Director Kim Record joined head coach Patrick Baker as the FSU soccer staff rewarded its players for turning in the most successful season in the short history of FSU soccer and completing one of the greatest turnarounds in Florida State athletic history. The Seminoles went from a perennial last-place team in the ACC to a squad that knocked off 1999 and 2000 National Champion North Carolina, defeated 1998 National Champion Florida on two occasions, beat top 20 opponents Texas A&M and Wake Forest and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
“When you get caught up in the excitement of a season like we had in 2000 you sometimes don’t take the time to acknowledge all the players and support staff that put us in position to achieve so much on the field,” said head coach Patrick Baker. “The banquet is a great opportunity for the coaches to let the players know how much we appreciate the hard work they put in everyday that allowed this group to change this program into something the whole university can be proud of.”
One of the main purposes of any season ending banquet is to honor the seniors since it is the last time the team will be together as it was everyday for the entire 2000 season. April Murphy, Rachael Watkin, Ashley Halter and Dee Foard went through a coaching change, losing seasons and playing on intramural fields with very little fan support to the unprecedented success of 2000. Sarah Deacon and Sarah Crawford transferred in and joined a senior class that turned FSU into a top 15 program that can now compete in the nation’s premier soccer conference and they laid the foundation for what will be one of the nation’s top programs for years to come.
“It is almost impossible to describe what this group of seniors did for this program,” said Baker. “Years from now we all expect to look back at this group of seniors as the class that forever established Florida State as a player on the national soccer stage. Tonight was our last opportunity to let them know that we won’t forget their contributions to this program.”
The seniors were each individually recognized by Baker and then collectively accepted a NSCAA plaque recognizing the team’s No. 14 national ranking in the organization’s season-ending poll. It was the first time in the school’s history that the women’s soccer program finished a season nationally ranked. The team also received NCAA certificates proclaiming its first-ever appearance in the Women’s Division I soccer tournament.
Coach Baker also rewarded all of the players who were honored with special recognition from the NSCAA, SoccerBuzz and the Atlantic Coast Conference. Emma Breland received recognition for being named a SoccerBuzz national freshman of the year finalist, named SoccerBuzz southeast region freshman of the year, FSU’s first SoccerBuzz All-American selection, a SoccerBuzz All-Southeast Region first team, a member of the SoccerBuzz Southeast Region All-Freshman team, a member of the Soccer America All-Freshman team, All-Southeast Region second team NSCAA, All-ACC first team and All-ACC freshman team. SoccerBuzz All-Southeast Region second team selections (Rachael Watkin, Sarah Crawford and Marte Vik Edvardsen) and All-ACC Tournament selections (Rachael Watkin and Sarah Crawford) were also honored.
The coaching staff also handed out their own awards for this year’s team. Christy Peacock won the Red Dog Award for the team’s hardest worker and the ultimate team player. Peacock appeared in 10 matches this season and was part of a Seminole defense that had the best defensive season in the history of the program. Peacock, and the rest of FSU’s defense, limited opponents to just 31 goals on the season. That beat the old record set in 1996 by 4 goals and the Noles played four more games (one ACC Tournament game and three NCAA Tournament). The defense also recorded 5 shutouts and tied the record for consecutive shutouts in a season (3).
The Coaches Award went to Sarah Crawford who became the first goalkeeper in Florida State history to start every minute of every game last season. Crawford is second in shutouts (6) and first in minutes played (2,273) in a single season and she is the first Florida State goalkeeper to ever record three consecutive shutouts. She, and the Seminole defense, allowed only 31 goals this season shattering the previous record of 35 set in 1996.
The Most Improved Player Award went to sophomore Cindy Schofield. Arguably one of the most important offensive players in Florida State’s turnaround last season, Schofield was tied for first in assists (7), was second in points (17) and was tied for second in goals scored (5). She also had two game-winning assists and recorded an assist in FSU’s 4-1 win over Texas A&M. Schofield was a key factor on the road where she tallied four of her six assists (Duke, Miami, Oregon State and Missouri).
Meredith Jones was tabbed by the coaching staff as the Seminoles Defensive MVP for the 2000 season. One of only four players to start every match for FSU this year, Jones was continually counted on to provide solid play in the back for FSU but has also been effective getting forward and assisting the Seminole offense. She recorded assists in four games including two important ACC battles. She assisted on the second goal in a big 2-0 win against Wake Forest and also recorded an assist on FSU’s first goal against Clemson.
Freshman sensation Emma Breland captured Rookie of the Year and Offensive MVP honors at the banquet. Arguably the best freshman in the ACC last season, Breland was among the conference’s league leaders all season long and was the first Seminole to ever be named All-ACC first team. She personally set 10 program firsts and also re-wrote the Florida State record books. She owns every FSU freshman record and is currently second on FSU’s list for most goals in a season and first in points scored in a season. Breland ranks second in game-winning goals in a season (5) and a career. She has appeared on the Soccer America Team of the Week twice this season.
Senior Rachael Watkin was a major reason the Seminoles had such an unbelievable season and she garnered Most Valuable Player honors for the 2000 season despite switching positions at the start of the year. Considered the Iron Woman of Florida State soccer, Watkin is the all-time leader in starts for FSU and she is second in all-time game appearances. She has started every match she has appeared in and she always plays big in FSU’s biggest games. She scored the first goal just five minutes into FSU’s 2-1 win over Florida in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and two of her three other goals came in a 4-1 win against No. 8 Texas A&M (the game-winner) and an equalizer just after halftime against No. 5 Clemson. Watkin also came through with an assist against the Aggies and Jacksonville in Florida State’s first-ever NCAA Tournament game and she assisted on the equalizer in a 3-2 win over then-No. 2 North Carolina. Scored a goal and the game-winning PK against Wake at ACC’s. It marked the first time in the history of Seminole soccer that the Seminoles advanced to the second round of the ACC Tournament.