Nov. 24, 2005
Chapel Hill, NC – While Florida State’s soccer team is seeded just one spot behind Carolina in the NCAA Tournament, don’t let those numbers fool you. The Seminoles will head into Fetzer Field Friday at 3:00 p.m. as a huge underdog. FSU (20-3) is just 1-17 all-time against North Carolina and has never won a game in Chapel Hill. The Tar Heels (23-1) have lost just two games all-time at home in the NCAA Tournament and they have outscored their first three opponents in this year’s tournament 14-2. The Heels scored more goals in a 6-0 win over Pepperdine last weekend than FSU has scored in all three of its NCAA Tournament wins.
“This is a big challenge for us,” said FSU Head Coach Mark Krikorian. “North Carolina has defined success in women’s soccer. Over the course of 20 years they have dominated and we are coming into their backyard. It will be a hostile environment but we are looking forward to it. I like our team and the way that we play. It will be a tremendous game tomorrow.”
“North Carolina has worked hard to become the best program in the game,” said senior defender Teresa Rivera. “It raises the excitement level for us to get to play a team like the Tar Heels with so much on the line. It is a huge game. If you are able to get a result against North Carolina on their field to go to the College Cup, you have really accomplished something.”
North Carolina has not only won 17 National Championships and posted a .934 winning percentage in the NCAA Tournament but they are 57-2 all-time in NCAA Tournament games played in Chapel Hill. Florida State has never won a game at Fetzer Field in five tries. The Heels did lose at home last year to Santa Clara in the round of 16 denying UNC a spot in the College Cup meaning this Friday’s match will be for the right for both teams to return to the College Cup since they both played in the National Semifinals in 2003.
“They are a great team because they bring their `A’ game every time they step out,” said All-America candidate India Trotter. “If you are not prepared to play all 90 minutes it can be a very ugly game for their opponent.”
“We are confident going into Friday,” said Rivera. “We have won 20 games and are coming off a great win over a very good Cal team. We will work very hard to get a result and go the College Cup for the second time in three years.”
One of the reasons FSU will head into Chapel Hill with confidence on Friday is the fact that the last time they played at Fetzer it was the closest game ever between the squads in Chapel Hill. The Heels won that match 1-0 in 2003, which was also the last time either team advanced to a College Cup.
“The last time we were here we lost 1-0,” said Trotter. “I remember walking in and knowing you were playing against a dynasty. This time around though I will go in knowing we have nothing to lose. We are the lower seed. We have only beaten them once. We are on their field so nobody is expecting us to advance to the College Cup. That takes a lot of pressure off.”
The Seminoles are also finding inspiration from an uncommon place. The last time the team’s met they played in Tallahassee earlier this season. The Tar Heels won that match 4-1 but this FSU team left that game knowing they could compete with UNC despite the lopsided final score.
“Walking off the field we didn’t feel like it was a 4-1 game,” said Rivera. “We felt that we fought hard and believe we are more evenly matched with them than the score indicated. There was a five-minute span where they won the game. They deserve credit. We learned that you have to play all 90 minutes to have a chance against a team like UNC.”
“I thought we played pretty well for much of the game the first time we met,” said Krikorian. “We had a let down and breakdown for about three minutes and they scored three goals. We are expecting our group is going to come out prepared to face a team of this caliber. We are a better team today than we were that night in September. If we can be precise in finishing our chances and keep disciplined in the back, we have a very good chance of winning the game.”
Capitalizing on their opportunities will be the key if FSU wants to go into Fetzer and upset the second-ranked Tar Heels. In the last match between the teams FSU held UNC to fewer shots than any other opponent this season. No team took more shots against the Heels this season than FSU and nobody put more shots on goal than the Seminoles. For the first time in 18 meetings, FSU out shot the Tar Heels becoming the first team to do that since Wake Forest out shot UNC 19-14 in 2002. Florida State forced UNC keeper Aly Winget to make seven saves, the most she had to make since September 22, 2002 and just one shy of her career high. Florida State did everything but find away to put the ball in the back of the net.
“We have confidence offensively because we did create some quality chances the first time we played,” said Trotter. “We are a team that is capable of scoring. We have been a dangerous team offensively all season.”
“They work so well together as a team,” said Rivera. “They have a great coaching staff. They are strong everywhere. Their weaknesses are very small. We have to take advantage of our opportunities when we get them. Earlier this year we had our opportunities early on and we didn’t take advantage. We let them slip by. Then we had lapses and they made us pay. That is why they are a great team and a national powerhouse. We have to finish our chances this time and cut down on mental lapses versus arguably the best offense in the game.”
After facing back-to-back opponents they had never faced in program history the last two weeks, Florida State and North Carolina will play for the 19th time in the last 11 years when they face off Friday. No team has played the Heels more times over the last 11 years than FSU as the schools have met twice in a season eight times but this will be the first ever meeting in the NCAA Tournament.
“We have played Carolina and watched them play twice at the ACC Championships,” said Rivera. “It was nice to face two teams in Illinois and Cal that we knew very little about but now we face a team we are very familiar with so we will see if that is an advantage on Friday.”
Friday’s match will be available free of charge via a live Internet radio broadcast. Campo will bring you the call starting at 2:30 p.m. Florida State’s audio broadcast will be available exclusively at www.seminoles.com, the official athletic website for Florida State athletics. Live stats will also be available for the match through the NCAA’s website at www.ncaasports.com.