Sept. 14, 2002
CORAL GABLES, Fla. –
The Florida State women’s soccer team heads into Sunday’s match with the undefeated Charlotte 49ers (4-0-0) looking to win three straight games away from home for the first time since head coach Patrick Baker’s first season in 1999. The Seminoles (3-1-2) have won two straight matches but will face their stiffest test of the season in Coral Gables, Fla. Sunday versus Charlotte and its explosive offense.
The 49ers have scored 13 goals in just four games already this season and employ a three front loaded with speed and talent. They are led by 2002 Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year Courtney Crandell (5 goals and 1 assist). The freshman striker has scored in every game in 2002 and was named the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week after the second week of the season. Joining Crandell up top, are junior Jill Hayes (3 goals and 1 assist) and senior Jennie Leeder (2 goals and 1 assist).
“The first time I ever saw Charlotte play was Friday night and they will be the best team we’ve faced all year,” said Baker. “They are very good. They are organized and fast. You don’t beat Miami 5-2 in Miami without playing good soccer. They created a lot of attacking opportunities and our entire team will have to play well to stand a chance against Charlotte.”
The Seminole defense will have its hands full with the 49er forwards but the FSU backline and keeper Kerry York have been very stingy so far this season. York, who is undefeated on the year (3-0-2), has already recorded two shutouts and just missed a third when Miami was awarded a penalty kick in the closing moments of Wednesday’s game. The sophomore goalkeeper comes into the match sporting a career low 0.67 GAA. Florida State has allowed just six goals all season, which is half of what they allowed through six games in 2001.
“Hopefully we can give ourselves a chance by defending well,” said Baker. “Our defense needs to give our forwards a chance so they can attack a little bit. We have always taken pride in the way we defend and hopefully we can do that tomorrow.”
The Tribe’s defense will get a much needed boost from the return of 2001 first team freshman All-American Katie Beal. The defender had missed all of the 2002 campaign while recovering from mono but saw her first action versus Virginia Tech Friday. The Alexandria, Va. native was voted to the All-ACC Rookie team and ACC All-Tournament team in 2001.
“It gives us some promise that arguably our best freshman from a year ago is playing on our backline,” said Baker. “We are thankful that she is back but everyone goes through injuries and illnesses. She will get some time tomorrow. She has to work on her touch and fitness during the week in anticipation of our ACC opener versus Clemson Friday.”
Sunday’s match will mark the fifth match in 10 days for FSU and know that Charlotte will come into Sunday with fresher legs than FSU. The team is 2-1-1 so far and a perfect 2-0-0 on their current road swing. Baker has fared well in first-ever meetings with an opponent as Friday’s victory over Virginia Tech was his fourth in a row in those situations. Baker has now recorded the first-ever win over a school 16 times in his three-plus year tenure.
“We are playing a very good team that is a little more rested than we are,” said Baker. “It is going to be a grind. Every Sunday game has been so far this year.
“As much as you would like to play really well, dominate games and shut people out, ultimately when you go on the road you just want to find a way to win. We have done that so far. I know we haven’t played our best soccer yet and we addressed that today on our day off. We met individually and collectively with our players and stressed that we can step out and make it better. We stressed really working on the mental side of the game since the schedule this week hasn’t really allowed us to focus on the physical side of the game.”
The Seminoles return home to face No. 18 Clemson September 20 at 7:00 p.m. as they open their conference schedule versus the Tigers for the third straight season. The Seminoles and Tigers have each won an ACC match on their opponent’s field the last two seasons with Clemson winning 3-2 in Tallahassee in 2000 and the Seminoles returning the favor by an identical score last season in Clemson. For more information on FSU soccer, please visit www.seminoles.com.