Sept. 16, 2005
Tallahassee, FL – The Florida State/Florida rivalry is as good as it gets in college sports. It has been that way for a long time on the football field and now it is just as competitive on the soccer pitch as well. After Florida stormed out to a 5-0 lead in the series, FSU has comeback and won four of the last seven matches. The Seminoles have beat the Gators in both NCAA Tournament meetings including in the 2003 Elite Eight sending FSU to its first ever College Cup. For the second straight year the teams will meet tonight at 8:00 p.m. on Sun Sports both ranked in the top 10 in the nation.
“Each year this game has gotten better and better,” said senior defender Teresa Rivera. “We are both ranked in the top 10 for the second straight year and what is also exciting is that both teams didn’t start out highly ranked and have worked their way up the polls. So we have proven a lot so far this season and both teams want to continue that. Neither team wants to lose and end that momentum. If we want to keep progressing, this is going to be a big test for us.”
The game will be aired live on Sun Sports and the Seminoles and Gators are one of only two top 10 matches being played Friday only adding to the drama of a series that has seen five of the last seven games decided by just one goal. While the Seminoles have won two games in Percy Beard Stadium, they were both in the NCAA Tournament. FSU will go down to Gainesville tonight still looking for the school’s first ever regular season win at UF.
“I am ready for Friday night and like all seniors in this series you want to finish your career versus Florida on a good note,” said Rivera. “We are 2-2 against them since I came to FSU and I want to win this final regular season game. It is such a big rivalry game. This is the type of game you come to Florida State to play in.”
“I am very excited to play in this rivalry especially since one of my rivals from back home in Colorado plays for the Gators,” said freshman central defender Sarah Wagenfuhr. “I am learning more and more about the rivalry because the older players are telling me stories from the past meetings between the schools.”
Learning about the rivalry is a big task this week considering FSU travels to Florida with nine newcomers on the roster. The job of teaching the players and first year head coach Mark Krikorian about the series has fallen to seniors Rivera and Alli Ferreri. Six of FSU’s 11 starters have not only never been in a FSU/UF game but none of the six are even from the US making the concept of a rivalry between schools a concept that is a little tougher to grasp.
“I think the new players are starting to understand the rivalry a little bit,” said Rivera. “Although many of the new starters aren’t from Florida or even America, you don’t have to be to understand what a rivalry is. They all have them wherever they played. I think they understand the idea behind this series.”
“I understand why there is a rivalry with the schools so close to one another so I can imagine what it is like,” said Kirsten van de Ven. “Of course in the Netherlands we have old rivals as well so this won’t be foreign to me. I will do the best I can to understand this particular rivalry and help my team get a win.”
With a crowd that could easily be in the 1,000’s on hand, Percy Beard Stadium can be an intimidating venue for a first year player but maybe not for the Seminoles’ newcomers. All six new starters have played for their country on the national stage and two, Sel Kuralay and Viola Odebrecht, have played in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
“I think our international experience will help alleviate some of the nervousness we might be feeling Friday night,” said Australian Kuralay. “In the Olympics we played in front of crowds of 30,000 or 40,000 people in huge stadiums. Hopefully that will help us contain our emotions when we get to Gainesville Friday night so we can just focus on playing soccer.”
“I think playing on the international level will help us come Friday night,” said van de Ven. “We have experienced large crowds and hostile environments. I don’t think we will be surprised by what we see Friday night as far as the crowd goes. Hopefully that will be the case because we need to be focused on a good Gator team and not the crowd.”
Friday night’s match will be available live throughout the state of Florida on Sun Sports at 8:00 p.m. There will also be a free audio broadcast of the game as well as College Sport’s Game Tracker, which will be available exclusively at www.seminoles.com.