Oct. 17, 2004
Raleigh, NC – The eleventh-ranked Seminole soccer team continues its road trip through the ACC Sunday afternoon when they take on the NC State Wolfpack at Method Road at 12:00 p.m. The Tribe is in the midst of its best season ever but has yet to record its first win on the road or play the same 10 players who started in the 2003 College Cup since the second game of the season. The Seminoles have started 10 different line-ups in 14 games but that hasn’t stopped the squad from getting results as far as wins and losses are concerned.
“We are off to the best start ever and have played well at times but I believe will still have some of our best soccer to come,” said Joy McKenzie. “We try to take one step further in that direction each time out and become a better team. We want to play to our capabilities and that is our goal every time we step out.”
“We are starting to play better and better each time we step out on the road,” said Alli Ferreri. “We are gaining a better understanding for one another. A lot of younger players are stepping up. It is always hard to get results on the road, especially inside the ACC. There has been a lot of camaraderie as of late as we all try to put things together and get that first win on the road.”
The Tribe (10-3-1, 3-2-1) is trying to put things together at a crucial time. The team saw midfielder Camie Bybee return to the line-up recently but has been without the services of consensus All-American Leah Gallegos. The loss in the front line has caused the Seminoles to struggle to score goals but it hasn’t kept the team from winning. The 2004 Tribe reached 10 wins faster than any FSU squad in school history but with an average of just 1.48 goals scored per game, many of FSU’s matches have been too close for comfort.
“I don’t expect anything but a close game,” said head coach Patrick Baker. “When you look at the trends, we are defending fairly well but can continue to clean parts of that up. We haven’t been able to manufacture a high number of great chances or multiple goals so I expect another close, tight game especially in the ACC.”
“We are missing a huge asset in Leah,” said Toby Ranck, who has filled in for Gallegos. “She does so much for this team on top of being our top goal scorer. I think a lot of players are stepping up all over the field to try and pick up their play and lessen the impact of Leah’s absence. Things have gotten better. You will always miss Leah but a lot of people are working very hard to hold things together while she is out.”
Despite missing key personnel and a constantly shifting line-up, FSU sits in fourth place in the 10-team ACC. The Tribe is one of just three ACC teams with two or fewer losses an is still jockeying to not only move up in the ACC but also avoid slipping down and possibly having to play in the first round of the conference tournament October 31.
“These next couple of games are so crucial because of the structure of the ACC this year,” said McKenzie. “We don’t want to have to play the opening weekend of the ACC Tournament. Having some success this week will go a long way towards advancing straight into the quarterfinal round.”
“There is a lot that is going to happen over the next week as teams continue to fight for position,” said Baker. “There are critical games being played every day that affect every team in the ACC. There are going to be some results around the conference that help us and potentially hurt us. We have to focus on ourselves and take care of what we can. This race will come down to the very lat conference games of the year.”
The next step in FSU controlling its own destiny will come Sunday versus the Wolfpack (7-5-2, 1-5-0). The Seminoles are 3-0-2 in the last five meetings between the teams. On top of the two ties, two of the other three games were decided by just one goal including last year’s meeting in Tallahassee. The only break in the trend came the last time FSU visited Method Road when FSU won that game 5-1.
“I expect a very similar game to last year’s 1-0 match,” said Baker. “They (NC State) are well organized. They have some personality players that you have to be very aware of. Due to the time of the season, there are huge implications based on the result. NC State needs to get an ACC win as badly as we do.”
This is the longest an FSU team has ever gone without recording a road victory since the inaugural season of FSU soccer when the 1995 team went 0-8-1 on the road. After opening the road portion of the 2004 schedule with a loss to No. 10 Duke, FSU almost broke through against No. 23 Maryland last week only to allow a highlight reel goal just 15:00 away from a victory.
“I think the Duke game was a big eye opener for us,” said Baker. “We felt like we put ourselves in a good situation at Maryland, if it wasn’t for a pretty remarkable shot that tied the game. From Duke to Maryland we improved and we hope from Maryland we continue to improve, not only as a team but in our performances on the road.”
“We now understand how different it is from playing at home,” said Melissa Samokishyn. “You have to be mentally prepared for the environment you are going to face. Each time we step out it is getting better and better because our comfort level increases. It is an all for one attitude out there because we can only rely on one another on the road.”
Game Tracker will be available for tomorrow’s key ACC match-up between FSU and NC State. Live play-by-play is available exclusively by logging on to seminoles.com, the official athletic website for Florida State University.