September 22, 2005 - by

GAMEDAY CENTRAL: No. 1 UNC And No. 7 FSU Face Off In Tallahassee Tonight At 7:00 PM

Sept. 22, 2005



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Tallahassee, FLA case can be made that there has never been a bigger regular season soccer game played on the campus of Florida State University than tonight’s match between two unbeaten teams in No. 7 FSU and consensus No. 1 North Carolina. This is just the second time since 1998 that the Tar Heels have come to Tallahassee ranked No. 1 in the nation and this is the highest an FSU team has ever been ranked heading into a regular season match with UNC. The two squads have also never met when both sides were undefeated. Throw in that two of the last three games have been decided by one goal and it is easy to see why there is an unprecedented level of excitement in Tallahassee today.

“It is sure going to be a challenge for us tonight,” said head coach Mark Krikorian. “Carolina has been a great team over the course of the last 20 years and they are the same again this year. They are loaded with talent and very well coached. We are looking forward to the challenge.”

“I can’t wait because this is something I have dreamed of ever since I was a little girl,” said freshman defender Sarah Wagenfuhr. “Every little girl dreams of going to Carolina but now I am ready to play them and see how good we are. Hopefully we can give them a good game.”

While the Tar Heels (8-0-0, 0-0-0) have owned the series between the teams winning 16 of 17 all-time meetings, the Seminoles (7-0-0, 0-0-0) did record a victory over UNC in Tallahassee in 2000. Since that loss, Carolina has gone 101-4-6 while winning two National Titles. Only three schools have even recorded a win against the Heels since their 3-2 loss at the hands of FSU five years ago.

“North Carolina has great players,” said Krikorian. “Look at their six attacking players. All of them are national players. Some are with the senior national team and many of them are with the youth national team. On top of being talented, they are organized and disciplined. You don’t win as many championships as they have just being talented. It takes more than talent. I have a lot of respect for what that program has accomplished.”

While players like Wagenfuhr, Kelly Rowland, Teresa Rivera and India Trotter grew up with the North Carolina mystique, FSU has started five international players this year that came to Tallahassee without knowing about UNC’s dominance much less about collegiate soccer in the states. While starting midfielder Viola Odebrecht might not know the program’s history, she has seen UNC’s top players up close and personal. As a member of the German National team she has already been on the same pitch with Carolina greats Lindsay Tarpley, Lori Chalupny and Heather O’Reilly.

“Internationally we know that North Carolina is a very good college for women’s soccer but we probably don’t have a full understanding of that like the American players do,” said Odebrecht. “I know that they have great players, some of which I have faced on an international level but I don’t know too much about the whole team. I think our international experience will give us confidence and is probably somewhat similar to the experience Carolina brings with them into the game. Both sides have a lot of experience playing the best players in the world so I think in that area we are somewhat comparable. Hopefully we will have the better day and give ourselves a chance to win.”

“With so many international players, while everyone has heard of Carolina, it is certainly not going to be a big factor,” said Krikorian. “The game will be won or lost on the field. A commitment to play hard will predict the outcome of the game.”

Florida State enters the game on a school record seven-game winning streak and fresh off an upset of then-No. 7 Florida in Gainesville. The team has shutout five of its first seven opponents for the first time in program history as well. An FSU squad has never started a season better than 3-0. With a new coaching staff and nine new players on the roster, not even the Seminoles thought they would enter tonight’s game undefeated and ranked seventh in the country. The team’s ascent in the polls is even more surprising since the squad started the year unranked in all four national polls.

“It has been a dream start to the season,” said Krikorian. “We didn’t expect to be 7-0 at this point. We really weren’t sure where we’d be with so many new faces. The players have come in, been open-minded and worked very hard every day at practice. That’s why we have been successful. If we can keep that formula going, we’ll have a chance for more success.”

“I think the Florida game was a very good game to help us prepare for tonight and facing Carolina,” said Odebrecht. “The games leading up to Florida were good for this team but the environment versus Florida was different from any game so far this year and the talent level was very good as well. We have very high goals and these two games will let us know where we are on the way to achieving those goals.”

Adding to the excitement of the undefeated season is the fact that this will be just the third home game of the season for FSU. The Seminoles haven’t played at home since September 3 with five of the squad’s first seven games being played on the road. The crowd could be a factor Thursday night considering the only visiting team that has ever played in front of two capacity crowds at the Seminole Soccer Complex is the Tar Heels in 2001 and 2003.

“So far we’ve shown ourselves to be a good team on the road but everyone wants to be able to win at home,” said Krikorian. “We have Carolina here at the Seminole Soccer Complex this year and we need to take advantage of that.

“We are really excited to play in front of our home crowd. We found a hostile environment down in Gainesville last week. Now we are looking for the comforts of being at home and having the crowd behind us and making it a little bit of a hostile environment for the Tar Heels.”

The biggest key any time a team faces North Carolina is trying to slow down the most potent attack in the history of Division I women’s soccer. The Tar Heels enter the game ranked third in the nation in goals scored. They have already scored six or more goals in three of their eight games including a 7-1 win over then 11th-ranked Tennessee to start the season. Florida State will have to get a great effort from its back four, which currently ranks 14th in the nation in goals allowed and seventh in shutout percentage.

While senior Teresa Rivera and junior Hermann Trophy candidate Kelly Rowland have both been through their share of battles with North Carolina, Katrin Schmidt and Wagenfuhr will be appearing in their first ever Carolina game. Wagenfuhr has been stellar this season but will be facing the biggest challenge of her Seminole career, which spans just seven games.

“I try not to think about being a freshman starting against players that are on our full national team because that’s when you get nervous and panic and things go downhill from there,” said Wagenfuhr. “I tell myself that I can play with these players and try to have confidence in myself. That is when I am able to do my best.

“As a group, I think we are confident in the back that when we play as a whole we do our best. When we start to try and play as individuals and not cover for each other that is when we struggle. In the game against Florida we covered each other and if we continue to do that tonight we will give ourselves a chance to deal with that great front six.”

Thursday night’s match will be available on a free Internet audio broadcast, which will be available exclusively at www.seminoles.com. Campo will bring you the call and will be joined by a special guest as Florida State University President T.K. Wetherell will join him in the radio booth. Live stats will also be available via Game Tracker. For fans attending the game, get there early as a capacity crowd is expected. The first 1,000 fans to enter will receive free Seminole rally towels. There is never an admission charge to a regular season game at the Seminole Soccer Complex.

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