Nov. 11, 2002
Tallahassee, FL –
For the third consecutive season, the Florida State soccer team will be taking part in NCAA postseason play. The 22nd-ranked Tribe, who felt the were slighted out of a hosting role in 2001, got the nod this season as they open tournament play Friday, November 15 versus Mississippi (13-4-2). The other side of the bracket will feature a match-up between UCF and Auburn.
“The first thing I saw was Florida State and was totally excited,” said head coach Patrick Baker. “Then I saw that Tallahassee, Fl was a host site and that was just as exciting. We felt like maybe we should have been able to host last year and didn’t. We were forced to go on the road. This year we were thinking we probably wouldn’t be able to host and we do.
“I feel good about the bracket. I know Ole Miss is wonderfully coached by Steve Holeman and they had a great year in the SEC. The great thing is we aren’t playing on of the top eight seeds in the tournament and that is awesome. In year’s past we have had to go to Florida and Clemson. It is just awesome to play somebody different and I don’t mean that to detract from the other teams in our bracket.”
This is the first time FSU will host the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament since the field expanded to 64. In 2000, the Seminoles hosted Jacksonville in the opening round but then headed to Gainesville, FL for the Round of 32 in a 48-team field. This will give FSU’s five seniors another chance to play at home after an abrupt end to their run in the ACC Tournament.
“I am so excited because after we lost in ACC’s, I didn’t think we’d have the chance to play on that field again,” said senior Katie Talley. “I think we are relaxed more now and have a better idea of what we need to do at home so this is great.”
In the first five years of Seminole soccer, the team didn’t make a single trip to the NCAA Tournament. In 2000 the team advanced to the Sweet 16, in 2001 the Round of 32 and now this year FSU will host with a chance to advance to the program’s second-ever Sweet 16, which could possibly be held in Tallahassee, FL also.
“We hope there is a progression from one year to the next,” said Baker. “Kim Record, our Senior Women’s Administrator said it best when she told me that a program has to put four, five, six NCAA Tournaments together before you can really claim yourself. So many teams get in one year and then not the next. We want to keep pushing the envelope every year. We want to build on the previous season.
“We have good team chemistry and we have good talent this year but we probably haven’t finished the year the way we would have liked. The committee has allowed us to play another day and we get another opportunity to step out on our home field and perform. There is nothing better than that.”
The Seminoles have won just one of their last five matches at the Seminole Soccer Complex after posting a perfect 8-0-0 record at home in 2001. For the season, FSU is 6-5-2 in Tallahassee but two of those six wins have come against ranked opponents and one an SEC school (Florida).
“Last weekend, hosting ACC ‘s we were all very excited but it didn’t turn out like we hoped and expected,” said junior defender Kristin Boyce. “Now that we have a second chance, I feel like our attitude has really shifted and we are going to be ready to get after it Friday. I don’t know that you can pinpoint what we have to change to be more successful at home but I know that once we lost to Maryland, everyone has been much more focused. Everyone is highly aware what is at stake. Every player wants to show well. I think that will play a big role and you will see a different team come the weekend.”
“We aren’t used to not winning at home,” said Talley. “We all need to just relax and get comfortable again playing at home.”
The meeting between the Rebels and Seminoles will be the first since 1996 when the teams tied 2-2 in a tournament in Atlanta. Times, ticket prices and other details concerning this weekend’s tournament will be available tomorrow by noon so please check back to www.seminoles.com for more information on the 2002 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championships.