Nov. 25, 2005
Chapel Hill, NC – The last time FSU and UNC played the Seminoles out shot the Tar Heels and recorded a series-high for shots on goal. They lost that game 4-1. Friday night it was the Heels who dominated the stats but FSU who is going to its second College Cup in the last three years. After a 1-1 tie, No. 11 FSU (20-3-1) eliminated the second-ranked Tar Heels (23-1-1) 5-4 in a penalty kick shootout. India Trotter scored FSU’s lone goal in the 1-1 tie and Minna Pyykko saved Heather O’Reilly’s PK in the shootout to help eliminate the Tar Heels.
“I want to congratulate one of our conference rivals, Florida State, for making it to the final four,” said UNC Head Coach Anson Dorrance. “They never gave up in this game all the way to taking the penalty kicks. Obviously we are disappointed not to advance because I feel we played very well today. Better than the first time we played Florida State.”
“We knew coming in that it would be a difficult game and difficult to establish a rhythm,” said FSU’s first year head coach Mark Krikorian. “I’m proud of our kids. I thought our effort was outstanding. We’re pleased to move on. UNC dominated for most of the game, but our kids hung in there.”
North Carolina came into the match 57-2 all-time at home in the NCAA Tournament and 17-1 lifetime versus FSU but it was the Seminoles who will advance despite the lopsided stats. The Tar Heels held a 31-7 edge in shots, a 10-1 edge in corners and put 19 shots on goal compared to just three for FSU but redshirt-junior goalkeeper Ali Mims was phenomenal all night. The Ponte Vedra Beach, FL native, in her first full season since more than 20 surgeries to repair a broken tibia in 2001, recorded a career high 13 saves in the victory.
“Usually when you have that number of shots and that number on frame you are going to sneak more than one in,” said Dorrance. “That was tremendously disappointing. Give Florida State credit. Their kids scraped and figured out ways to keep it out.”
“I was just doing my job out there today,” said Mims. “I knew they would come at us in waves. They had a lot of shots and I had a lot of opportunities to make saves. My defense in front of me just did a phenomenal job tonight eliminating a lot of danger. I was able to do the job I was asked to do and have fun doing it.”
Mims wasn’t the only hero in goal for the Seminoles. After 110 minutes of heavy pressure, the FSU coaching staff made a goalkeeper change going into the shootout. The staff brought Pyykko off the bench despite the fact she had appeared in just three matches all season and played fewer minutes (106: 28) than Mims played in Friday night’s game alone.
“It was something decided a long time ago,” said Mims. “If we went to a shootout, Minna would go in. I had done my job so I got to sit back and watch her do hers. She did great.”
Pyykko did more than great. The junior from Espoo, Finland came up with one of the biggest saves in program history. After both teams converted their first PK, all-everything forward Heather O’Reilly stepped to the PK spot. Pyykko jumped around in goal and then launched herself to the right post snaring the All-American’s shot.
“The whole team did an awesome job in the field throughout the game,” said Pyykko. “It was an honor for me to get a chance to play in this game and have a chance to help this team. I was a little bit nervous but for a goalkeeper in PKs the shooter has more to lose than we do.
“It is awesome to get a chance to make a contribution in a game like this. I can’t find the words. Anytime I can help this team I will do it. Luckily enough I was able to help us this time.”
Although the save was huge, FSU still had to make four kicks to ensure itself of advancing. One by one the Seminoles converted but the Heels did as well. That brought Melissa Samokishyn to the line. The sophomore started Friday night for just the second time since September 16 and was given the unenviable task of marking UNC’s Lori Chalupny all 110 minutes. It was until seconds before the final PK that she even knew she was shooting.
“I have no idea why they (the FSU coaches) didn’t tell me I was the fifth shooter until right before I shot,” said Samokishyn. “I guess the coaches wanted to surprise us. They have been watching us take PKs in practice and probably had an idea of how they wanted it to go. I guess they wanted me shooting fifth.”
Once again the Seminole coaching staff’s instincts were right on the mark. The Littleton, CO native stepped up to the line with the shootout tied 4-4. Her kick would send FSU to the College Cup and in the first PK attempt of her Florida State career she buried it.
“I stepped up there with confidence in myself just like I was confident in the other players on my team during their PKs,” said Samokishyn. “I knew I wanted to end the game right there and send us to the College Cup. I was looking for a goal and luckily it worked out for us.
“It was unbelievable to have the opportunity to send my team to the final four. It was amazing. It was a dream come true for a lot of us tonight.”
For a team that saw its coach take another job in December and see all but two of its recruits stick with their commitments, the College Cup in 2005 is a dream come true. Seniors Alli Ferreri and Teresa Rivera came into the fall not even knowing who four of their teammates were before the first day of practice and now they will end their careers in College Station, TX at a College Cup for the second time in their four-year careers.
“This means the world to me,” said Rivera. “I can’t explain how emotional this is. Especially with everything this team went through and to still prevail and come out on top is amazing.”
“This is unlike any other one,” said Ferreri. “We went into Chapel Hill and left with a trip to the College Cup. That is almost unheard of. We traveled a hard road to get to the College Cup and playing a team like Carolina just makes it that much sweeter. It was a great day for this program and this group of players.”
The dream of reaching the 2005 College Cup started early for FSU as just 8:25 into the match the Seminoles jumped on top. India Trotter’s fifth goal of the NCAA Tournament was her second of the season versus the Heels and it put FSU up 1-0.
The play started with a long goal kick by Mims. North Carolina won the header at midfield but the momentum of the ball carried the header backwards toward UNC’s goal. Trotter was there to run on to it and went in 1v1 with Heel keeper Anna Rodenbaugh. FSU’s junior All-America candidate went low to the back post for her 13th goal of the season.
“One of their girls headed it backwards,” said Trotter. “They play a high backline so I cheated up and received it. I was able to dribble at the keeper and was on a breakaway. I went to the lower corner and got it in.
“I knew I had to finish that one. You don’t get many chances versus UNC so when you do you better take advantage. You have to capitalize. I was telling myself to stay focused so I could finish it.”
Florida State held the lead for 47:59 following the goal, their longest lead ever in the series. The Heels than began to pressure and nearly evened the match. Following a UNC corner the Tar Heels had multiple shots on goal inside the six yard box that the FSU defenders kept turning away. The ball almost crossed the Seminole goal line on more than one occasion but the Heels were unable to poke the ball in.
“I never saw a series like that in my life,” said Dorrance. “The ball seemed to live on their goal line for an eternity. It seemed like every player on our team had an opportunity to shoot it and they managed to block it, block it, block it and finally clear it out. If we had to point to one aspect of the game that was symbolic of our entire season, we would take that series.”
After multiple shots in the middle of a scrum no more than eight yards from goal, FSU wasn’t lucky enough to dodge the next bullet. Less than 12 minutes into the second half Kendall Fletcher evened the match on a header at the back post.
After Tar Heels tied the game 1-1 on Fletchers’ goal in the 57th minute, neither team could break the deadlock for the next 33 minutes. Despite being out shot 31-7 for the game the match moved into overtime for just the second time in 19 meetings between the schools with the last coming in 1995. The Seminoles entered the match 2-0 in OT in 2005 and 2-0-1 all-time in overtime in the NCAA Tournament.
Both teams had great chances to end the game in extra time. Carolina’s came first on a breakaway just 43 seconds into the first OT. Lindsay Tarpley got in alone on the left side of the Seminole box. Mims charged the Heels second-leading scorer and slide down low to save the shot.
“I kind of cut off the near post so I figured she would try to go far post,” said Mims. “I took my chance on that and it was a 1v1. I read the play and experience led me through that situation.”
Then it was FSU’s chance in the second 10 minute period. Trotter who was the main offensive weapon for the Seminoles all night got in alone with the keeper but was unable to convert on two chances. Rodenbaugh came out and slide at Trotter’s shot making the first save. The junior then had a chance at an open net but with defenders between her and the goal, her left footed chance went just wide at the far post.
“Oh my gosh,” said Trotter reflecting on her breakaway. “I was getting some pressure from behind and I should have shot it earlier. I decided to wait and she cut the angle down really well. I had a second chance too. I hit that with my left foot and it went just wide. I was upset that I couldn’t put the game away for us right there.”
With the shots a much more equitable 6-4 in the OT period, the game moved into a shootout setting the stage for two unlikely FSU heroes. Pyykko was the first to step up for FSU. After UNC and FSU both made their first PKs, UNC’s top goal scorer O’Reilly stepped to the PK spot. Pyykko guessed right and snared the ball to open the door for the Seminoles.
“We have been working for awhile on PKs and Minna has very good quickness and reads the play pretty well,” said Krikorian. “We have been working on PKs for more than a month and have talked for a while that we would turn to Minna in this situation and let her come up with a save for us and she did that today. I thought her timing was exceptional and she showed that today.”
“When you defend penalty kicks you need a good effort, concentration and a little bit of luck,” said Pyykko. “I think I had all three on that save.”
After Sel Kuralay, Katrin Schmidt and Teresa Rivera each converted their kicks; it was Samokishyn’s turn to steal the spotlight. The midfielder did just that by ending the game with FSU’s fifth straight penalty kick conversion.
“It was a team effort tonight and I was so happy to see Mel end it for us,” said fellow Coloradoan Sarah Wagenfuhr. “Everyone was so willing to sacrifice everything for each other and work so hard.”
“There are no words to describe tonight” added Mims. “There are no expressions to describe how it feels to be a part of this. I had watch the last time we made it to the College Cup. I was on the sidelines knowing I couldn’t contribute to my team. To be able to be a part of this on the field this year is a dream come true for me and this team.”
Florida State will now take on another No. 1 seed in UCLA (21-1-2) who defeated Virginia 5-0 in Los Angeles Friday night. The game will be played Friday, December 2 at 4:30 pm EST and will be shown live on ESPNU. A tape delayed broadcast will be shown on ESPN2 Saturday at 2:00 p.m. More information on the 2005 Women’s College Cup will be available at www.seminoles.com, the official athletic website for Florida State athletics as soon as it becomes available.