Nov. 10, 2001
Winston-Salem, NC –
The 19th-ranked Florida State soccer team enters uncharted waters Sunday when they play in the program’s first-ever ACC Championship at 1:00 p.m. in Winston-Salem, NC. The Seminoles (14-6-1, 4-3-0) used two of the most unlikely games of the season, one a win and the other a tie, in advancing to Sunday’s championship against consensus No. 1 North Carolina (18-0-0, 7-0-0) at Wake Forest’s W. Dennie Spry Stadium. The game will be televised all over the east coast on Fox Sports Net and on the Sunshine Network in Tallahassee and throughout the state of Florida.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity to play in the ACC Championship,” said head coach Patrick Baker. “We’ve found a way to get something done that is very special and that is to get into the ACC Championship. We wish we had a week to prepare for a fantastic North Carolina team but we have less than 48 hours. We will give it our all Sunday and we will try to represent the ACC proudly.”
The Seminoles opened the tournament Friday by downing No. 24 Maryland 7-2 in the most lopsided road win in the history of the program. In the game, FSU scored as many goals against the Terrapins as all seven of the ACC schools scored during the 2001 season combined and the seven goals were just five shy of the 12 Maryland had allowed all year before the quarterfinal match. Florida Sate recorded 12 shots with all 12 on goal and seven of those shots going into the net. After FSU downed Maryland by a score of 2-0 just six days prior to the ACC Tournament, they turned around and scored the most goals in a single game since September of 1996 when the team downed Jacksonville 11-0.
“It was an interesting game because things never come that easy especially against a good Maryland team and even more so in the ACC Tournament,” said senior captain Heather Dyche. “We had a little bit of luck with us but when you finish that many chances it can’t be all luck. We came in confident due to our third place finish in the conference. To walk into that banquet last night and not be stuck in the back corner of the room with no awards is a confidence boost for us. This whole year has been awesome and it isn’t over yet.”
With the Seminoles scoring seven times against Maryland and five times in their season finale versus Jacksonville University, few would of expected what transpired Friday night in the ACC semi-finals. Just 11 days after the Cavaliers downed the Seminoles 3-2 on a last minute goal with the teams combining for three goals in the first 11 minutes of the match, they went on to play the longest scoreless game in ACC Tournament history.
The Cavaliers came out and immediately took control of the game and after 90 minutes, four 15 minute overtime periods, a 35 to five edge in shots, a 20 to two edge in shots on goal and a 13 to three edge in corner kicks for the Cavaliers, the match was still tied 0-0. Freshman keeper Ali Mims made three saves in the first round of shootouts including a diving foot save against two-time ACC Player of the Year Lori Lindsey to open the door for Ashlee Fontes’ heroics. The junior right-back stepped up to the line as the last shooter in a shootout tied at 2-2 and buried her kick sending FSU to the finals.
“I was excited to take that kick and I love those situations,” said Fontes. “As soon as the shot hit the back of the net, my first thought was to get away from the dog pile. It was a great moment because we are going to the finals but me making the final kick was no more important than the one Cindy and Meredith made or the saves Ali came up with.”
The shootout win marked the second consecutive season the Seminoles had advanced at the ACC Tournament in shootouts. In 2000, FSU and Wake played to a 1-1 tie before the Seminoles advanced in sudden-victory penalty kicks to face North Carolina in the second round of the ACC Women’s Soccer Championship. After never winning an ACC Tournament game before this season and advancing to the second round for the first-time in school history last year, FSU finds itself in the finals just three years into Baker’s tenure.
“This is probably the biggest result in our program’s history despite the fact that it was a tie,” said Baker. “We have been the perennial doormats in the conference year after year after year and it was a huge step to get to third place this year. We relished the opportunity to get our first win over Virginia but they were just phenomenal tonight. We are such a young team and this make-shift group has done unbelievable and it is a credit to them.”
Sunday’s final marks the sixth time North Carolina and FSU have met at the ACC Championship with the first four meetings coming in the first round of the tourney and the Seminoles being the eighth-seed facing No. 1 seed UNC. Last year was the first time the teams faced outside of the opening round and this year will obviously be the first time the teams have met in the conference final. Florida State was one of the last teams to beat the Tar Heels when they defeated UNC 3-2 in overtime last season at the Seminole Soccer Complex. Carolina then lost its next game to Wake Forest and hasn’t lost since in winning an ACC Title, an NCAA Title and 18 straight matches in 2001.