Feb. 21, 2002
AUSTIN, TEXAS –
Patrick Baker’s 11th-ranked FSU soccer team opens its spring season this weekend in Austin, Texas where they will face the U-19 Canadian National Team Thursday at 7:00 p.m. The Seminoles will then wrap-up their first set of play dates Sunday, February 24 at 11:00 a.m. versus the US U-17 Region III Olympic Development Program (ODP) team.
Florida State’s 2002 spring schedule also includes the team’s first-ever alumnae game, a match-up with 2001 NCAA Tournament participant Tennessee and a trip to Portland where the Seminoles will face Oregon and Oregon State. Florida State will also head to Orlando, Fla. for the All-Florida Jamboree, which includes most of the state’s top soccer programs.
“I think we were able to put together a very attractive schedule this spring that will allow the girls to face top competition and afford them the chance to travel to some great cities,” said Baker. “Right off the bat we head to Austin which will b e a real treat for (Kristin) Boyce since it is her hometown and for goalkeeper Joy McKenzie who is from Houston.”
The Seminoles will be tested immediately versus the Canadian U-19 National Team especially since they haven’t even had a week of practice leading up to their first spring game. On top of that, Baker plans to experiment with a 4-3-3 alignment (four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards) this spring compared to the 4-4-2 he has utilized since coming to FSU in 1999 and the team has had little chance to work on it.
“I am a little concerned about switching alignments considering we have hardly worked on it during training,” said Baker. “But the spring is the time to experiment and not worry too much about the final score. I think we have the personnel that are suited to play with three up top but we’ll have a much better idea after this weekend.”
After their two games against top national and international squads, the Seminoles will head to Orlando, Fla. next weekend to participate in the All-Florida Jamboree featuring Final Four participant Florida, UCF, USF and Jacksonville. The Seminoles hosted the event last season and are scheduled to face UCF and Jacksonville in two 45:00 mini-games at this year’s event.
Florida State won’t take the field again until March 23 when it hosts the first-ever FSU Alumnae game. The game will feature many of the players that laid the foundation over the past seven seasons that has enabled FSU to get to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, the ACC Championship match and the school’s first Sweet 16. The weekend will also include the team’s annual post-season banquet.
“We are all very excited about that weekend,” said Baker. “We want the girls that came before us to feel they are part of the success we are experiencing now as a program and I believe this will be a great first step towards accomplishing that goal. Then we get to have our post-season banquet on the same weekend and I think it makes for a very special few days for our program.”
The Seminoles next host their only two spring games at the Seminole Soccer Complex when nationally renowned club squad Team Boca comes in to play Friday, March 29 at 7:00 p.m. Florida State will then welcome 2001 NCAA Tournament participant Tennessee for a game scheduled to take place at 7:00 p.m. Saturday, March 30. Both teams will bring familiar faces to Tallahassee as current Seminole sophomores Amber Tollefson and Summer Corum played their club ball with Team Boca and former Seminole star Ashley Halter is currently a graduate assistant with Tennessee.
Florida State concludes its spring slate with the team’s second trip in three years to Oregon to face the Ducks and Beavers. The Seminoles played both squads during the 2000 regular season on the road and will host both teams to open the 2002 season at the Florida State/Nike Invitational.
“There are going to be some great opportunities for us this spring to start to form the squad that will step on to the field that last weekend in August versus Oregon State and Oregon,” said Baker. “This is a time for a lot of players to show how they have progressed and to start to step up and fill the void left by our four seniors.”
The 2002 team will have to replace three senior starters including central midfielder Marte Vik Edvardsen and the most-productive offensive player in school history in Maren Vik Edvardsen. The team also losses starting back Heather Dyche and team co-captain Christy Peacock. The loss of Marte Vik Edvardsen in the midfield is one of the reasons Baker is willing to experiment with the 4-3-3.
“I have no doubt we have the players on this team who could step up and replace Marte in the midfield,” said Baker. “Due to her injury late last season, we got the chance to see the future a little bit and we were able to advance to the ACC Championship game without her but I always felt this team was at its best with Marte in the midfield. We will do some experimenting and see if playing with three in the midfield takes better advantage of the strengths our current crop of players possess.”
With 2nd-team All-American Amber Tollefson leading the way, Baker feels that the current group of midfielders which includes redshirt-sophomore Jenny Garcia, junior Katie Talley, All-ACC rookie team selection Camie Bybee and junior Meredith Jones is more than capable of directing the Seminole offense.
Losing Maren Vik Edvardsen up top is another concern. But FSU does return Cindy Schofield, the ACC’s leading goal scorer in the regular season, All-ACC Rookie Team selection Jez Ratliff and midfielder Summer Corum, who will use the spring to prepare for a possible move to forward in the new scheme.
Despite the obvious void of Dyche’s leadership amongst a young group in the back, the 2002 Seminole defense has the opportunity to be the best ever. Freshman All-American Katie Beal and 3rd-team All-Region selection Kristin Boyce are staples in the back four despite a total of just three seasons combined experience. Ashlee Fontes will provide senior leadership as she has started a majority of games in the back over the past two seasons. Jones is also more than capable of playing in the center of the FSU defense and was a starter there in 2000.
“I am very comfortable with the group we are taking into the spring this season,” said Baker. “Our last two recruiting classes have allowed us to make up for the loss of those four seniors and I expect the younger players to take full advantage of the opportunities they will get this spring.”
Probably this biggest relief this spring compared to last for Baker and goalkeeper coach John Galas is the amount of keepers on the roster. After current Seminole soccer graduate assistant Sarah Crawford graduated in 2000, FSU went into the spring without a single keeper on the roster. Baker took care of that problem with his 2001 recruiting class which brought in three quality goalies and eventually produced two starters.
Former Gatorade Player of the Year Kerry York won the job in the fall but ended up suffering an injury that kept her out for a large stretch in the middle of the season. Fellow freshman Ali Mims came in and didn’t miss a beat as an area of weakness in the sense of numbers last spring turned into a positive situation for the coaching staff. While York will probably see limited action at the beginning of the spring as she recovers, Mims and McKenzie will have an opportunity to continue to gain experience.
“Needless to say, we feel we are in much better shape going into the spring this year at the keeper position compared to last season when we had to poll the team to see if anyone had any experience in the net,” said Baker. “Both Kerry and Ali played brilliantly at times last season but it is very difficult for any freshman to play that position especially when you face more NCAA Tournament teams and Hermann Award finalists in the regular season than any other school. The spring will be a critical time for all three keepers as they continue to gain valuable experience that will be priceless come fall.”
Another positive for Baker will be the return of both assistant coaches for the first time since his arrival. The return of Samantha Andersch, who will be in her second season, and Galas, who returns for a fourth season, will provide stability for Baker and allow him to go through the off-season without the concerns that come with new staff.
“You never want to stand in the way of your assistants who have opportunities to either become head coaches or to move into other areas that will make them happy,” said Baker. “It is great to work with John and Sam and I am thrilled to be able to go into my fourth season at FSU with the continuity we established last year.”
As for the fall, Baker anticipates the fall slate to be finalized in the next few days and will soon be able to release the dates and times for a schedule that includes home games versus Final Four participants North Carolina and Florida and visits from ACC-rivals Clemson, Virginia and Wake Forest. For complete coverage of Seminole soccer and the latest news on FSU’s 2002 spring and fall schedules, please visit our official athletic website at www.seminoles.com.