Aug. 22, 2003
Tallahassee, FL –
The 12th-ranked FSU soccer team got its preseason started on the right foot Friday night defeating the U-16 boys team from Tallahassee United Football Club (TUFC) 4-2. Sophomore Leah Gallegos scored two goals as she picked up right where she left off after a record-setting freshman campaign in 2002. Three members of the nation’s seventh-ranked recruiting class also recorded points as US U-19 National Team members Julia Schnugg and India Trotter both recorded goals and Toby Ranck recorded an assist.
“I am excited we finally got the season underway even though this was just a preseason match. We played a good quality team. They were athletic, they had pace and they could knock the ball around,” said head coach Patrick Baker. “I thought our team responded very well and I was very encouraged. I didn’t think any one player looked out of place at any time tonight and that was exciting.”
The teams played three, 30-minute periods in front of over 300 fans at the Seminole Soccer Complex. After TUFC scored the first goal of the game in the 20th minute, FSU went on to score three unanswered goals including two that came within a minute of each other. Joy McKenzie made her first ever start in goal in a game played during the fall and both she and Kerry York allowed one goal in 45 minute stints.
“I was really impressed with the result we got as a team tonight,” said Gallegos. “All the work we put in during the preseason was very hard but we did it as a team. It is nice to see it all come together individually and collectively. It was really exciting.”
Gallegos put on a show Friday night as she continued to build upon a stellar freshman season. Although the game was just a preseason match, the sophomore from Los Angeles, CA awed fans with individual brilliance on top of finding the back of the net twice.
“Leah has picked up right where she left off in the spring,” said Baker. “I thought she had a very good spring and hopefully she will have another special season as a sophomore. She’ll have to raise her level this year for us to be successful. Tonight she has already shown signs of doing that.”
After falling behind 1-0 in the 21st minute, two Team Boca members helped the Seminoles even the score. Just 4:57 after the TUFC goal, Amber Tollefson and Trotter hooked up for FSU’s first goal of the night. Tollefson picked up an attempted clearance about 25 yards out and lofted a diagonal ball over the top of the defense right on to Trotter’s foot. The Ft. Lauderdale, FL native one-timed the first shot of her Seminole career into the net.
“This is really funny. Amber (Tollefson) and I just made eye contact and all of a sudden I just knew she was going to play me the ball,” said Trotter. “She played an amazing ball and all I had to do was finish it. The ball was played right to me in front of the keeper and I just had to tuck it away. Everything happened so quickly so I didn’t get nervous about finishing it. I was just hoping it would go in and I wouldn’t put it over the bar.
“It was awesome to score my first time out in a Florida State uniform. I have been sitting in the stands forever watching in awe of the players that have played here and how good they are. I always imagined myself in that white uniform playing under the lights. It felts so good to finally fulfill that dream and then to score on top of it was so satisfying.”
After a long scoreless streak that encompassed the whole second 30 minute segment, the Tribe scored three goals in less than a five-minute span blowing the game open with two of the goals coming off of Gallegos’ foot. The first came in the 75th minute and was set up by two of FSU’s newcomers. Ranck started the play by making a great endline run down the right side. The ball was heading right to Schnugg in traffic; she faked the defense and let the ball slip through to Gallegos at the back post. The striker then just directed it in.
“Toby (Ranck) made a dynamic run down the line and sent in a perfect cross on a great angle,” said Gallegos. “Julia made a near-post run and made a great dummy move allowing the ball to end up right at my feet. All I had to do was tap it in.”
Schnugg, who passed on trying to score the goal just minutes earlier, got one herself 70 seconds later. The Alamo, CA native was the beneficiary of a great run and ball played by Jessica Bell. The sophomore attacked from the same flank as Ranck did just a minute before and found Schnugg at the top of the 18. The freshman took a couple of touches to free herself and slotted the ball in at the near post past a sliding defender and diving keeper.
“Jessica Bell fed me a great ball and I felt someone on my left side so I cut it back just to get away from him and then I slipped it in, just barely,” said Schnugg. “It was so exciting to score my first night out. I was saying to myself `go in’, `go in’. I am here wearing garnet and gold and this where I want to be. This is where I want to start my career, this is where I want to end my college career and to get a goal on my first night is special.”
Just over two minutes after the Seminoles’ third goal, Tallahassee United closed FSU’s lead to just one goal at 3-2. Gallegos once again gave FSU some breathing room though just 90 seconds later. Camie Bybee slipped a great ball into Gallegos’ feet at the top of the 18. Gallegos beat the defender marking her, dribbled the keeper and then fired into the empty net for the fourth goal of the game for FSU.
“Camie (Bybee) could have easily taken that herself but she unselfishly played it in to me,” said Gallegos. “She slotted it between two of their defenders. The goalie came out; I cut it to the side and was able to finish it off, thankfully.”
Of the four goals and four assists the Tribe racked up Friday night, six came from freshmen or sophomores. The underclassmen for the Seminoles are going to be counted on in 2003 in Baker’s estimation and the scrimmage was a good first response that the group is ready to accept that challenge.
“The freshmen and sophomore class are going to be relied upon heavily. Both of those classes have really stepped it up,” said Baker. “We also had some great senior leadership tonight on top of the junior class playing very well.
“I thought we defended fairly well in the back. Joy (McKenzie) got her first true start at this point of a season. Kelly Rowland did a very nice job in the back and fellow freshmen India Trotter and Rachel McDowell did a great job in the central midfield,” said Baker. “Julia Schnugg and Toby Ranck did well on the flanks. Toby’s assist was the result of something she has been working on and it was nice to see that final piece come through for a young player.”
The performance turned in by the nations seventh-best recruiting class didn’t only please Baker. The group is very close and they were ecstatic about the success of their first-year teammates.
“I was so impressed with this freshman class tonight,” said Schnugg. “Even the players that were sitting out tonight helped. We are all supporting each other and encouraging each other. It is so awesome to have such great chemistry. We have gotten off to a great start and I think we are going to have a lot of fun on this team.”
Defensively the Seminoles played very well but came off the pitch knowing there was still plenty of room for improvement. The experienced backline is never happy allowing two goals according to junior center back Katie Beal.
“I thought we played pretty well but we gave up two goals I thought we could have prevented,” said Beal. “Collectively there were some very positive things and it was a good starting point for us.”
Florida State returns to the field Sunday, August 24 at 4:00 p.m. when they will face the United Quest’s (Georgia) U-18 squad at the Seminole Soccer Complex. The Tribe is now less than a week away from facing two top 20 teams next week when they open the season at home versus No. 19 Southern Cal and No. 8 Penn State.
For more information on the Florida State soccer team, please visit our official home on the web at www.seminoles.com.