Nov. 4, 2005
Cary, NC – The fifth-ranked FSU soccer team spent a good part of their early history struggling to make a name for the program. In its first six years of existence, the Seminole soccer team did not win an ACC Tournament game and they were outscored 28-2 in the first round of the championships. How things have changed. When the Seminoles take the field tonight at 7:30 p.m. they will be playing to advance to the ACC Title game for the third time in five years. To get there they will have to get past defending ACC Champion Virginia who holds a lifetime record of 12-0-1 versus FSU.
“We are all really excited to play in the ACC semifinals,” said All-ACC Freshman Team defender Sarah Wagenfuhr. “We are not putting too much pressure on ourselves. It is just another opportunity to be tested against a very good Virginia team.”
Florida State has played for the ACC Championship more times than any team besides North Carolina since 1999 but FSU is still looking to breakthrough and bring home the school’s first title. Virginia did it in 2004 when they dethroned North Carolina in a shootout becoming the first team since 1988 to keep the conference trophy from returning to Chapel Hill.
“We know how important it is for this program to make it to the finals and re-establish ourselves after getting knocked out in the quarterfinals last year,” said FSU keeper Ali Mims. “It is something that we will take pride in if we are able to advance. There is something to be said to playing for the ACC Championship.”
Playing for that third title won’t be easy. Florida State has never defeated the Cavaliers and fell 1-0 to No. 7 Virginia earlier this season in Charlottesville. Since starting the season 3-2-1, UVA has won 11 of its last 13 matches and they have allowed more than one goal just once during that stretch. That came in a 2-1 2OT loss to No. 3 North Carolina.
“This could be a defensive game,” said Florida State Head Coach Mark Krikorian. “I think both teams are organized and disciplined in their play. Both sides have a lot of different attacking personalities. I am very familiar with their players. They have good players that are well coached and organized. I would be surprised if you saw a 5-4 game but stranger things have happened. Both teams seem to have maintained a pretty good level of concentration in defending and have solid goalkeeping.”
“Virginia is a very good opponent,” said FSU forward Sel Kuralay. “They play a similar style to us. They like to keep the ball and move it around. It is going to be a competitive game and the best team on that day will walk away with the win. Hopefully that will be us.”
The Cavalier defense has allowed just 14 goals all season. When the two teams met in early October, Virginia limited the potent FSU offense to just seven shots, which is still a season low total for the Seminoles. The Cavaliers held All-ACC First Team goal scorer Kuralay to just one shot, well below her average of over 4.5 per game.
“I think we have had a lot more time to grow as an offense since the first meeting,” said Kuralay. “We are more creative up front and are doing a better job now of linking with our wide players and getting good balls in front. I am confident we can generate more chances than we did in the first meeting. Then it is up to the front runners to put those chances away.”
If the Seminoles are able to generate more chances in front of goal, it will be up to FSU’s stellar defense to limit a Virginia attack that features ACC Rookie of the Year Jess Rostedt, Noelle Kaselica and Kelly Quinn. Florida State held the Cavaliers to just 12 shots and one goal in the last meeting between the two top 10 squads.
“I think we need to shut down their speed,” said All-ACC freshman Sarah Wagenfuhr. “If we get turned, it will become a foot race and they will win. We have to eliminate the one-v-one as much as possible and make sure we have each others backs.
“They have a lot of speed up top and they finish their chances well. We have to make sure we are marking tight and do the best we can to shut down their speed.”
This is the second meeting between the teams in the ACC Championship semifinals. In 2001 FSU and Virginia played 150 minutes of scoreless soccer in Winston-Salem, NC. Florida State was out shot 35-5 that night but FSU made 20 saves, 12 of which were registered by current Seminole keeper Ali Mims. The redshirt junior came into the game in at the start of the second half and played all four overtime periods and then held UVA to just two PK conversions in the ensuing shootout.
“I remember it was a hard fought game,” said Mims. “We played a lot of minutes of soccer. It was an amazing effort on the part of both teams. Unfortunately it had to go into PK’s. I don’t like to see a great game like that come down to a shootout but lucky for us we were able to advance.”
Follow No. 5 Florida State’s match with No. 7 Virginia (14-4-1) via Game Tracker. The match is slated for a 7:30 p.m. kick Friday, November 4. For all your Florida State soccer information, log on to Seminoles.com, the official athletic website for the Florida State University Athletic Department.