Nov. 20, 2005
Tallahassee, FL – For the second time in three seasons the Florida State soccer team is headed to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament. The second-seeded Seminoles (20-3) advanced to the round of eight Sunday with a 2-1 victory over No. 3 seed and sixth-ranked Cal (16-4-2) in Tallahassee. Juniors Kelly Rowland and India Trotter each scored goals to give the Seminoles a 2-0 lead before the Bears scored with just 37 seconds remaining in the match. Florida State will now face second-ranked North Carolina for the right to go the College Cup.
“I am just so happy for everyone involved,” said junior Hermann Trophy candidate Rowland. “From (Athletics Director) Dave Hart and (Senior Associate Athletics Director) Kim Record all the way to our coaches and players, this is a credit to everyone. After everything that happened with this team in the off season, I am just so happy for everyone involved.”
Florida State picked up its 20th win of the season for the first time in school history in a game that saw Cal take more shots (11-8) and put more chances on goal (7-5) but neither team was able to get on the board in the first half. In the second frame Rowland set the tone less than five minutes in as she bent a service from the far sideline to the backpost that caught the corner of the frame and bounced into the net. Trotter then cemented the game in the 86th minute with her fourth goal in three NCAA Tournament games. Cal fought back in the final minute to cut the lead in half but the Seminoles were able to run the clock out for the win.
“I thought it was a heck of a soccer game today between two teams pretty committed to going out and trying to get themselves into the round of eight,” said Florida State Head Coach Mark Krikorian. “I thought in the first half Cal was better than we were. They fought harder. We weren’t as prepared as we needed to be. In the second half we came out with much better focus and were able to compete a little better and score a couple of goals. This wasn’t our best performance of the year and there have been two or three games where we haven’t played at our highest level and still been able to win the games. That is a credit to this team.”
“It was every bit of a good game that we thought it would be,” said Cal Head Coach Kevin Boyd. “If you were a fan today, I’m sure you enjoyed the soccer. It was good soccer and it was competitive. It was a battle. I thought the first half we did a good job of knocking the ball around. I thought the backline played real well. We weren’t thrilled with our front line. We should have been generating more dangerous chances. We had chances but not dangerous enough. Then the second half coming back down two and getting a goal in the end and continuing to battle. I thought that was a success as well.”
Cal out shot FSU 8-3 in the first half but the best opportunities belonged to FSU. In the 15th minute of the game Kirsten van de Ven played a ball to Sel Kuralay. The sophomore found Trotter streaking into the Cal box all alone. FSU’s All-America candidate got 1-v-1 with Bear keeper Ashley Sulprizio but was unable to put FSU in front.
“The ball hit off my shin guard,” said Trotter of the missed opportunity. “I wanted to place it in the right corner but I didn’t get a chance to. The goalkeeper did a really good job of cutting off the angle.”
Just a minute later the Seminoles generated another dangerous chance. Viola Odebrecht won the ball 40 yards from goal. She made a run to the top of the 18 and slipped another pass between the Cal defense to Trotter. Once again Sulprizio was there as she beat Trotter to the service.
“I thought their defense was spread out and their back line liked to go forward a lot,” said Trotter. “That left some gaps and Sel (Kuralay) and Viola (Odebrecht) did a great job of slipping balls through to me. That is how we created most of our chances by going right down the middle.”
“Even though our performance wasn’t as good as I thought it could be, we still created a couple of good chances and minimized their chances in that first half,” said Krikorian. “I don’t know if it was the rain or the preparation. I don’t know exactly what it was. We weren’t as sharp in the first half as I thought we needed to be. Certainly we give credit to Cal for part of that. They certainly came out and were inspired and did a good job. I won’t use the conditions as an excuse. We just weren’t sharp enough.”
Although most of FSU’s chances came down the middle of the pitch, it was a miraculous cross from way outside the box that changed the game. Just under five minutes out of the lockerrom Rowland gave FSU a 1-0 lead. The junior collected the ball on the right side just yards from the sideline. She laced a bending cross to the backpost looking for a teammate to latch on to the service but the cross caught the inside corner of the goal and bounced into the net putting the Seminoles in front.
“It was a wet surface and with the way the Brine ball takes off of your foot I took a chance,” said Rowland of her goal. “I’ll take it. Any ball that is driven at a keeper in these conditions is hard to handle. I just gave it a kick and it went in.”
“What went wrong (on Rowland’s goal) is probably another question,” said Boyd. “We gave up that goal, where if she ever scores another one like that I would be shocked. She just drove a ball across and it happened to hit the post upper corner. It was a great goal and hats off to her. It just wasn’t a very common goal.”
The Seminoles continued to generate chances looking for an insurance goal but it didn’t come until the 86th minute. Kuralay found a seam in the Bear backline and slipped a ball into Trotter at the top of the 18 on the right side. Trotter was in 1-v-1 with the keeper once again and this time she buried her shot over the top of Sulprizio and right down the middle.
“The goal I missed earlier was on my mind when I got that chance in the second half,” said Trotter. “I got another chance and was able to finish that one. Sel (Kuralay) saw an opening and just pushed it through. I got the ball and aimed for the corner. It didn’t quite go in the corner. It went in so I was happy about that.”
“After that (the first goal), we started pushing and trying to get something and it opened up some holes in the back and that is how Trotter got hers,” said Boyd. “She was dangerous all day anyway.”
The two goals allowed by the Bear defense equaled the most they had given up all season. The only other team to score twice versus the Bears was Santa Clara in a 2-1 loss. Coming into the match Cal had surrendered just nine goals in 23 matches.
“(Assistant coach) Erica (Walsh) always says a great offense can beat a great defense and this showed our willingness to score today,” said Trotter. “The chances were coming and I felt we would be able to get a goal. They are a very good team and the best defense we have seen all year. They challenged us up front but we did a good job as well of breaking them down on a few occasions.”
The two second half goals boosted the Seminoles’ season total to 64, which continues to build on a school record. Florida State also broke the single season record for points Sunday upping their season total to 186. Five of FSU’s seven NCAA Tournament goals this year have now come in the second half.
“I thought the first goal was important but I thought the second goal was even more important,” said Krikorian. “Had they scored the second goal I think it may have really changed the game but when India was able to put us up 2-0 it kind of settled the game a little bit. Obviously we didn’t kill the game at the end as well as we should have and gave them a chance. It was sloppy out there and the more opportunities each team had the greater the chance a mistake could be made.”
After FSU’s second goal with just 4:30 remaining Cal pushed numbers forward in hopes of getting on the board. With just 37 seconds remaining they did just that. Tracy Hamm and Nkechi Kanu combined to send Katie Ratican in on the right side of the Seminole 18. The junior buried the chance but Cal was unable to mount another attack after the goal.
Florida State will now face No. 1 seed North Carolina with a berth in the College Cup on the line. The Seminoles and Tar Heels played earlier this season in Tallahassee with UNC winning that game by a score of 4-1. The date and time for the match will be determined later this evening. Please check www.seminoles.com, the official athletic website for Florida State athletics for information on next week’s match.