Nov. 7, 2002
Photo Gallery: ACC Tournament
Tallahassee, FL –
It’s been a long time since the 19th-ranked FSU soccer team (11-6-3) didn’t advance out of the quarterfinals at the ACC Women’s Soccer Championships. After being eliminated in the first round for five straight seasons, the Tribe played in the semi-finals in 2000 and battled North Carolina for the conference crown last year. This year, a loss to Virginia in the season finale dropped Florida State from the No. 2 seed to the No. 4 seed and into a Thursday night showdown with No. 16 Maryland (12-6-1).
The Terrapins used two goals in the first 35 minutes to take the home crowd out of the match and then held on as FSU cut the deficit to one goal on two occasions. The Seminoles’ 4-2 loss was the first they have suffered in the last four meetings with Maryland and now leaves the Seminoles waiting on a Monday announcement to see if their season will continue with their third straight invitation to the NCAA Tournament.
“I want to start by congratulating coach Shannon Higgins-Crosio and her players on advancing to the semi-finals,” said Florida State head coach Patrick Baker. “This was a tough night for us. When it comes down to it, after 90 minutes they scored four and we scored two. They advance and we don’t.”
Throughout the first 10 minutes of the match, each team tried to assert its dominance. In the first five minutes, Maryland had most of the play. The Seminoles came back and controlled the second five minutes with most of the play taking place in the Terps’ end of the field.
The first serious chance of the game came in the 14th minute when 2001 SoccerBuzz first team freshman All-American sent a free kick deep into the Maryland box. 2002 All-ACC first teamer Cindy Schofield and Maryland keeper Kristen Barnhill converged onto the service and the ball fell free. Maryland’s Jen Biscoe cleared the ball out before it had a chance of reaching the back of the net.
Sophomore Camie Bybee had the next chance for FSU. Just over ten minutes later, Jenny Garcia made a dangerous run on the left side of the box. She crossed the ball to Bybee at the far post. The central midfielder headed the shot back the other way beating Barnhill but the ball caught the post and bounced out.
Just moments later Maryland would strike the first blow of the match. Lindsay Givens sent a long throw-in into the FSU box where a group of players from both teams were waiting. The throw-in found Mallory Maher about one yard out from goal and the freshman headed the ball past keeper Kerry York putting Maryland up 1-0.
“I thought we kind of gave the first goal away,” said Baker. “We know what Givens is capable of off the throw in. We gave them that one.
“Instead of playing that ball out of bounds, we probably could have played it to Meredith (Jones) and kept possession. Instead we kicked it out of bounds. Givens’ throw-in is an offensive weapon.”
The Seminoles went on the attack looking for the equalizer as Jez Ratliff made a dangerous run down the left side of the pitch into the penalty box. She turned into the six-yard box but Barnhill made a sliding save to knock the ball away.
Maryland extended its lead in the 35th-minute. Kimmy Francis collected a ball at the top of the Seminole 18 about 20 yards out from goal. The freshman spun around and ripped a shot to the left side of the net leaving York little chance to make the save.
“On the second goal you could see what she was about to do,” said Baker. “I was screaming ‘watch the turn’ and she turned and absolutely ripped a beautiful shot.”
After the goal, the Terrapins gathered in the center of the field and all collapsed in a planned celebration with more than 56 minutes still remaining in the game.
“They disrespected us by thinking our field was a bowling alley,” said Baker. “I think that is what got to our team. When we were disrespected on our own field, I think that was what really got to us. It got our emotions. It got our attention. It got us fired up.
“For whatever reason, we wait until we give up two goals before we start to play. It’s not good habit to have but for whatever reason we have it.”
The Terrapins celebration did seem to spark FSU and they cut the lead in half just over five minutes later. All-ACC rookie team selection Leah Gallegos started the play by dribbling past half the Maryland team before being pulled down at the top of the box. There was no whistle on the play but the ball was kicked out right to a waiting Erica Lewis. The freshman fired the shot on her first touch from 25 yards out and placed the ball just inside the left post.
Gallegos almost got the Tribe even before half. She once again took on the Maryland defense beating two players on a vicious cut back move. Once she was free, she bent a shot to the back post that sailed just wide of the goal.
Just over eight minutes out of the locker-room, Maryland bumped its lead back to two goals. Biscoe made a 30-yard run straight down the center of the pitch right up to the top of the 18. She then slipped the ball to Ali Andrzejewski who was just behind her on the left side. The freshman tucked the ball into the net at the backpost putting the Seminoles behind by two goals for a second time.
Less than three minutes later, FSU fought back again. Ratliff collected the ball on the endline on the left side of the field. She served a ball to the far post where Schofield headed it back into the center of the box. Bybee was there waiting about six yards out and she stuck the pass into the side netting.
“I thought we got back in the game right after their celebration when they went up 2-0,” said Bybee. “That really got us going. I knew we were going to score. We kept telling each other that it was coming. I never for one second thought we were out of this game.”
Moments later the Tribe almost evened the game as Lewis sent a perfect diagonal ball springing Amber Tollefson down the right side. Her cross was headed through the box before Barnhill scooped it up and cut off the scoring opportunity.
Gallegos then had another chance to even the match. She was just inside the Maryland 18 where she had beaten the Terps first line of defense. She was pulled down before she could shoot and once again there was no call on the play to the dismay of the pro-FSU crowd of 763 fans.
“That was the difference in the game,” said Baker. “We are perfect on PK’s all year and if the referee doesn’t swallow his whistle, we step up and its 3-3 with everything to play for. Then they counter, make it 4-2 and its game, set and match. He (the referee) said he felt that Leah (Gallegos) took a dive.”
The Terrapins did counter and ended up extending their lead to 4-2. Biscoe sent a long ball through the Seminole’s defense, which was pulled up looking for the tie. The pass ended up on the feet of Simone Dekker who was already way behind the last defender. She dribbled around York and slipped the ball towards the net. Beal came charging back to save it off the line and got a piece of the ball before she violently collided with the post and collapsed to the ground as the Terps celebrated. She wouldn’t return to the game but left the field in under her own power after the match.
The loss leaves the Seminoles waiting on the NCAA Tournament committee to announce the field of 64 for the 2002 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championships. The announcement will be made Monday at approximately 4:30 p.m. and broadcast live by ESPNNews. Florida State will be looking to get into the postseason for the third straight season.
“I talked with our players about nothing being sure for us,” said Baker. “I don’t think we are a shoe-in by any stretch of the imagination. We probably pushed ourselves from being in a pretty good situation last week to being a bubble team now. If we are fortunate to be on the board of 64 on Monday, we need to be excited about that.”
Florida State will take the next two days off and then hope to be back out on the practice field Monday in preparation for the NCAA’s. The Seminoles have won three NCAA Tournament games the past two seasons and will be looking to build on that streak with favorable news from the selection committee.
“We need to defend better. We need to create better and we need to score more goals if we are fortunate enough to be playing next weekend,” said Baker. “Soccer is a very simple game and at times both the coaches and players make it complicated. We have all the talent here that we need to be successful. It is just a matter of putting it together. We have the capabilities of penetrating the NCAA bracket but it’s just a matter of stepping out and performing.
“I asked our team to think about what they want to do with this season. It hasn’t been easy from opening night up to this point. Every game except for NC State has been tight. Every game has been in the balance and that isn’t the players fault. It is my fault and I only have myself to blame. Maybe I haven’t found the right buttons or focused on training on the right things.”
As soon as they field is announced for the 2002 NCAA Tournament Monday, log on to seminoles.com to hear reaction from the FSU players and coaches and see if and when Florida State will next take the field.