Nov. 19, 2005
Tallahassee, FL – For the sixth time this season the FSU soccer team will take the field versus a top 10 squad and for the fifth time they well be the under dog. Despite being seeded second in the field of 64, the third-seeded Bears (16-3-2) come into Sunday’s third round of the NCAA Tournament ranked four spots ahead of FSU (19-3-0) in the NSCAA poll. The Seminoles will host the NCAA Tournament third round match between the two seeded teams at 1:00 p.m. It is the first time in school history Florida State has been chosen as a host site for a round of 16 match.
“It is great to be playing at home,” said Florida State Head Coach Mark Krikorian. “Our season went very well and we have been rewarded with a chance to play on our home field in front of our own crowd. We get to stay in our own beds and be comfortable in our own surroundings. I think it is a nice advantage for us.”
“Playing an NCAA Tournament game at home is awesome,” said All-America candidate India Trotter. “To have that crowd and your friends and family behind you is great. There is a comfort level that really helps you especially in a big game like this one.”
Florida State is 2-3 in 2005 against top 10 opponents with wins over No. 6 Duke and No. 10 Boston College. Their three losses have come against North Carolina and Virginia, twice. As an underdog in the national rankings, FSU has gone 3-2 but this year’s squad does have six wins over NSCAA top 25 teams, which is a school record. They will attempt to jump that number to seven when they face the Bears Sunday.
“We have to be consistent on Sunday,” said Krikorian. “We have to continue to do the things that have made us successful throughout the season. We need to be disciplined and organized in our defending. We have to be creative but not risky in out attack. We have to find that balance between creating a nice attacking style of soccer and remaining solid defensively.”
“We need to play the way we are capable of playing,” said Trotter. “We need to pass the ball around and play our style. If we want to have success versus Cal, we need to be able to stop them from changing the way we have played all season. Both teams will be trying to impose their style on the other and whoever does that best will have the most success.”
The Bears advanced to the third round of the tournament with wins over Rice and UTEP playing the first two rounds in Austin, TX. Cal is 7-0-1 in its last eight games away from home and has not lost on the road since September 25. The Bears have played 10 NCAA Tournament teams this season and posted a 6-3-1 record in those matches.
“Cal is very organized and they have good players all over the field,” said Krikorian. “Their defending is stingy. They’ve given up only nine goals all year. They use a varied attack. I expect them to be a very good opponent for us.”
Cal has allowed just nine goals this season in 21 matches. They are one of the top defensive teams in the nation shutting out 14 opponents. Starting keeper Ashley Sulprizio has a stellar GAA of 0.39 and she and the Bears have not allowed a single opponent to score more than two goals in a game. They will be countered by an FSU offense that has had a player with multiple goals in a game 11 times this season.
The Cal back four will try to continue that success against the nation’s 11th best scoring offense. The Seminoles enter the third round of the NCAA tournament with 62 goals, which is the most scored by an FSU team. FSU broke the all-time record set in 2003 in four fewer games. The team’s 57 assists rank third all-time and just one shy of moving into a tie for second. Florida State is also nearing the single season points record. FSU has amassed 181 points in 2005 just one shy of the program record set in 2003. FSU will enter the match averaging over 2.5 goals each time they step out.
“We have had good success this season breaking down the defenses of some great teams,” said Soccer Buzz National Player of the Year finalist Sel Kuralay. “We have scored over 60 goals so we are confident as an offensive. Cal will be the biggest challenge we have faced but hopefully we will be able to create and finish enough chances to get a result.”
One of the keys for FSU offensively will be the play of All-America candidate Trotter. The Ft. Lauderdale, FL native has scored 11 goals and has nine assists for 31 points this year. Amazing numbers considering the midfielder came into 2005 with three goals, six assists and 12 career points. In two games in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament versus FAU and Illinois, she scored three goals matching her career total coming into 2005. Trotter had three points all-time in six NCAA Tournament games coming into this season. She doubled that total in one weekend.
“India has done a great job in the tournament attacking opposing defenses,” said Kuralay. “It is so difficult to stop someone with her ability. She can be damaging for opponents. Playing with her helps my confidence. We compliment each other very well. We are finding each other easily now as we continue to fine-tune our relationship on the field. Neither of us cares who scores as long as the team is producing and winning we are both happy.”
Cal is by no means one-dimensional though. The Bears have scored 39 goals this season and are led by Liz Eisenberg who has 11 goals on the year. Fifteen Bears have scored at least one goal including former Seminole Julia Schnugg. The junior led FSU in goals scored in 2004 before transferring back home to be closer to her family and sister who is a freshman at Cal.
“We all know how good Julia (Schnugg) is and she isn’t alone as far as talented attacking players,” said Hermann Trophy candidate Kelly Rowland. “Cal will attack from all over and they are very talented. We are expecting them to work hard all game long because that is what they do best.”
The Seminoles will counter a deep Cal team that continues to bring offense off the bench with the most successful defense in program history. Florida State has a school-record 11 shutouts this season and has allowed only 16 goals. The previous single season best was 21. Most amazingly this year’s defense has allowed just four goals to non-conference opponents in 10 games. To put that in perspective, FSU has allowed at least three goals to one non-conference opponent in eight of the previous 10 seasons.
“We are at the point of the season where we have a comfort level with one another and we are putting everything we worked on since day one together,” said center back Rowland. “We have had a very good season and we are playing our best at the season’s most critical juncture. We will need to continue that if we want to have a chance at a result Sunday.”
This is the fourth time in six years that FSU has moved into the round of 16. After being shutout 2-0 (Clemson) and 1-0 (UConn) in their first two trips into the third round, the Seminoles got over the hump in 2003 when they traveled to West Virginia and beat the Mountaineers 3-2 on the way to the College Cup. Only two players who started that game in Morgantown will be in the starting line-up Sunday. Rowland and Trotter were both in the starting 11 that day along with Cal’s Schnugg.
“The West Virginia game taught us a lot about playing in the third round of the tournament,” said Rowland. “Any team still playing this weekend is good and this will be a game played at the very highest level. We need to be focused and prepared. We will have more of an advantage this time playing in front of our own fans that will help. We also learned that it doesn’t guarantee you anything because we went to West Virginia and won so Cal could do the same thing here.”
Tomorrow’s game will be played at the Seminole Soccer Complex. Tickets will be on sale at the stadium and the first 100 FSU students will be admitted free of charge. For fans that cannot attend the match, Campo will bring you all the action free of charge via a live Internet radio broadcast. Updated stats from the match will also be available. For links to the radio and stats broadcast, please log on to www.seminoles.com the official athletic site for Florida State athletics.