TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
After posting records for the most wins in a regular season (14), the furthest advancement into the ACC Tournament (finals), the highest ACC finish (third) and the most conference wins in a season (4), the 16th-ranked Seminole soccer team was rewarded Monday with its second consecutive bid to the 2001 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championships. Before its unprecedented run to the Sweet 16 last season, the year’s ACC Championship runner-up, Florida State, had never been to an NCAA Tournament in the program’s history. The Seminoles (14-7-1) open the NCAA Tournament against SEC Championship runner-up Auburn University (11-7-1) at 12:00 p.m. Friday November 16 in Clemson, S.C.
“We are very excited to be invited back to the NCAA Tournament,” said head coach Patrick Baker. “We are going to play a very good Auburn team in the first round and the bracket features another two great teams in Clemson and Kentucky so I think it is one of the stronger brackets in this year’s tournament. It is so nice to know we got in to the tournament and that is the most important thing,”
The Seminoles didn’t take an easy road to get back to this year’s championships either. Florida State played 16 games versus teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament, more than any other team in the country. Of those 16 games, five of them came against the top six seeds in this year’s tournament with all of those games being played away from home. The Seminoles posted an 8-7-1 record against the field and when you remove two games versus No. 1 seed North Carolina and games against No. 2 seed Santa Clara, No. 4 seed Portland and No. 6 seed Florida, FSU went 8-2-1 against the field.
“I think we have always wanted to play a strong schedule and that was evident this season,” said Baker. “When you play in the ACC and then go out and face Santa Clara, Portland and Florida, you know you are in for a tough road. We also faced some great teams like Kansas, Loyola (Md) and Miami who all made the tournament and my hat goes off to Mark (Francis) and Jim (Blankenship) for the great job they have done. Playing those types of teams is important because we know going in that we can be successful against NCAA Tournament teams. We are very proud of our strength of schedule and we wouldn’t change that if we could.”
This will be just the fourth-ever meeting between Auburn and Florida State and the first meeting between the schools since 1999. The Seminoles have downed the Tigers 6-1 and 4-0 in the last two meetings between the schools but Auburn is in the midst of one of the most successful seasons in school history in 2001.
“Auburn was the first recruiting trip I ever took,” said Seminole forward Cindy Schofield. “I know a lot of their players and we are familiar with their coach Karen Richter who is from Central Florida. It will be a very personal game for me Friday.”
The Seminoles, if they were to advance, would face the winner of the game between Kentucky (12-7-1) and the host school and 18th-ranked Clemson Tigers (13-4-1). The Seminoles have never faced the Wildcats in the school’s seven-year history but are very familiar with Clemson since both schools play every year in ACC competition. Florida State downed Clemson 3-2 earlier this season at Clemson in the program’s biggest conference road win in school history. The teams also met in last year’s Sweet 16 in Clemson with the Tigers eliminating the Seminoles by a score of 2-0.
“Clemson is a fantastic team and we were fortunate to get a victory against them when we played them very early in the season,” said Baker. “It would be a great honor for our conference to have two of our own advance to the round of 32 but both of us would have to get through a very tough game against teams from the powerful SEC. With the field expanded, it would be nice if teams from the same conference could meet further down the road but with the regionalization of the field right now, teams from the same conferences end up knocking one another out. That happened last season when every ACC team in the tournament was knocked out by a conference-foe.”
The Atlantic Coast Conference placed seven teams in this year’s tournament, just one behind the eight Big East squads that qualified. Sixteen teams are making their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament, which is the exact amount by which the field expanded this year. For more information on the Seminole soccer team, please visit www.seminoles.com, the official athletic website for Florida State University sports.