Nov. 10, 2005
Gainesville, FL – The most successful regular season in program history, the most wins and the fewest losses. The two longest winning streaks ever on top of a seven game run in ACC play. A second place finish in the ACC and a second-seed in the NCAA Tournament. All of these things won’t mean anything for the seventh-ranked Seminoles (17-3-0) if the open the 2005 NCAA Tournament at 2:30 p.m. Friday in Gainesville the same way they opened the tournament in 2004.
Last season Florida State entered the NCAA Tournament once again in Gainesville off the most successful regular season in program history. The Seminoles faced off with BC and ended up being eliminated in a shootout following a scoreless draw. It was the first time in school history that FSU did not advance out of the tournament’s opening round.
“I have thought about the way last season ended over and over,” said senior Alli Ferreri. “I don’t want my career to end the way last year’s seniors had their career come to an end. I want to feel we have gone as far as we can and when it is all said and done know we took it as far as we were capable of. Right now I am just looking at getting past FAU because we know how tough that will be.”
“Last season was the first time we were eliminated in the first game so it was an eye-opener for us,” said Hermann Trophy candidate Kelly Rowland. “We will open the tournament this year on that same field so it brings back some memories of last season. Hopefully we have put that behind us and can focus on a good FAU team.”
Florida State doesn’t have the luxury of dwelling on the past. A-Sun champion Florida Atlantic enters the game 16-3-1 and riding a 13-0-1 streak. The Owls have allowed just eight goals this season for an average of just 0.39 goals per game. They lead the nation with 16 shutouts and are recording clean sheets 80% of the time they play. Add to that the 48 goals they have scored this season and FAU has a very impressive goal differential of +40.
“Coming in on a streak like they are on will do wonders for their confidence,” said Rowland. “As we know from personal experience, winning streaks are great but they don’t guarantee you anything. Friday it will be two teams on the field battling for the right to advance. That is all that will matter.
“We played FAU in 2003 and they fought hard. I am expecting nothing less from them this season. We are anticipating a very difficult match.”
Despite playing in the same state, the two teams have met just once before. Florida State has played fewer games versus the Owls than any DI team in the state (with the exception of UNF, which just joined the DI ranks). This year’s game has a very similar feel to the last time the teams met in 2003. FAU came into that game 12-1 in its last 13 matches while FSU was 9-1-1. This season Florida Atlantic is even hotter entering the match 13-0-1. FSU is on a streak of its own having gone 9-1 in its last 10. The previous meeting between the teams in Tallahassee was a one-sided affair with FSU running out to a 3-0 lead just over 18:00 in en route to a 7-0 victory. There isn’t a single player on this year’s FSU team that recorded a point in that win over FAU while the Owls have five players who played in that match including keeper Megan Coyne.
“We aren’t familiar with them but that isn’t as difficult as people make it out to be,” said FSU keeper Ali Mims. “It comes down to their best 11 versus our best 11 and we just need to go out and play the way we are capable of playing. We need to play our game no matter whom the opponent is and that is what we will try to do Friday.”
“Playing FAU will be exciting for me because there will be some familiar faces on the other side of the ball,” said Parkland, FL native Rivera. “We know that they are coming to win. I have played with many of their players and they are winners. They will be intense and ready to play. They will have the mentality that they are coming in to win because if not the season is over.”
This is the fourth time in six NCAA Tournaments that Florida State will be playing at least one game in Gainesville. Over four years, this will be the fifth game FSU’s seniors have played in Florida’s James G. Pressly Stadium. Although seeded-second in this year’s tournament, FSU will open on the road for the third time in six seasons. FAU has only played in Gainesville once before and that was during the Gators inaugural season of 1995.
“We have moved on,” said Rivera when asked if the shock of not hosting had worn off yet. “There is nothing we can do about that. We are only going to worry about the things we can control.
“Even though we have played so many games at UF, I don’t think there is a comfort level playing on your rival’s field. We do know the field and the stadium though. It isn’t too far from Tallahassee so that is another positive. It will be a great atmosphere and we are excited.”
The Seminoles are hoping the 2005 season turns out to be more like 2003 than 2004. Two years ago Florida State entered the NCAA Tournament as a seeded team (11th), won a game in Gainesville (versus Florida in the quarterfinals) and wound up playing in the school’s first ever College Cup. That season the team started 1-4. This year the Seminoles were pegged sixth in the ACC in the preseason coach’s poll. Mims sees some similarities between the two squads
“This team has the feel of the 2001 and 2003 seasons,” said Mims who was a member of both of those teams. “Those years we came out of nowhere and proved everyone wrong. This year has that feel to it. The chemistry inside the locker room is special and we all feel that.”
Fans will be able to follow the game on a free Internet audio broadcast, which will be available at www.seminoles.com. Campo will bring you the call beginning at 2:30 p.m. Live stats will also be available. Tickets for the match are available through the University of Florida. For more information on the 2005 Seminole soccer team, log on to the official athletic site for Florida State University at www.seminoles.com.