Nov. 13, 2005
Gainesville, FL – Despite an unusually quite stadium and an unfamiliar opponent, Sunday’s 2-1 win over Illinois in the second round of the NCAA Tournament was familiar for second-seeded Florida State. For the fourth time in six NCAA Tournament trips the Seminole soccer team (19-3) has advanced to the round of 16 and each and every time it has been by identical 2-1 scores. Sunday’s victim was the Fighting Illini (12-7-3) who was looking to get back to the third round for the second straight season but thanks to goals by Sel Kuralay and India Trotter it was FSU that advanced to play the winner of Cal and UTEP next weekend.
“I thought our performance was pretty good today,” said FSU Head Coach Mark Krikorian. “We established a nice rhythm into the game relatively early. In the first 30 minutes we played some nice attacking soccer. Sel got a great goal for us. I give Illinois a lot of credit for the effort they put in. They were very organized and hard to break down. They made it a very exciting finish to the game.”
“I have said something about this team all year long that most of the time irrespective of the result we came off the field feeling like we were the better soccer team. Today I think, credit to them, Florida State was the better soccer team,” said Illinois Head Coach Janet Rayfield. “Their play in the midfield is exceptional and that is where the game was won today. This was a great NCAA Tournament soccer game.”
Florida State dominated statistically in the first half taking 13 shots to just four for Illinois. The first one to find the back of the net though came in the 30th minute. Kelly Rowland made a great run and split the defense with a ball to All-ACC first team selection Kuralay. The Australian Olympian took a turn and fired from nearly 30 yards out. The shot went to the upper corner on the right side of the goal putting FSU in front 1-0.
“It was a great run in by Kelly,” said Kuralay. “After taking on about 10 players, she saw I was free and played me the ball. Nobody really closed me down so I had a lot of time. I looked up, picked my spot and shot it. I like to score from range. It is one of the strongest points of my game. I am not a quick player so I kind of compensate for that with shots from distance.”
The Seminoles got back on the board again in the 64th minute to go up 2-0. This time it was a great build up started out wide by Melissa Samokishyn. She found Trotter in the box. The junior All-America candidate tried to play the ball to Kuralay but it was intercepted. The deflection came right back to Trotter who was in 1-v-1 with the keeper as she scored her third goal of the NCAA Tournament.
“I tried to flick the ball inside the box to Sel but it didn’t work,” said Trotter. “It hit of one of their defenders and took a bounce right back to me. I was standing in front of the goalkeeper with the ball at my foot. I just tried to slot it past her.
“It feels better to win than score goals to be honest. It doesn’t matter to me that I have a few goals. What matters is we are moving on in a single elimination tournament. It is a better feeling that we are going to play next weekend that me scoring my third goal this weekend.”
Illinois got back into the game with less than 15 minutes on the clock. Laura Redmond played a ball inside the FSU box between two Seminole defenders. Ella Masar ran onto the pass and had an easy finish from about eight yards away.
That was as close as Illinois would get though. Despite pushing numbers forward in hopes of equalizing the match, the Seminole backline held strong. For the match they allowed just eight shots compared to 20 taken by FSU. The corner battle was fairly even with FSU holding a 5-4 edge and both teams put six of their shots on frame.
“We came to Florida looking to win a national championship,” said Illini defender Kelly Campbell. “I thought we played our hearts out Friday night from the opening kickoff to winning the game in double-overtime. We played our hearts out today, but Florida State was just a better soccer team today than we were. I personally feel that this was a successful trip for us to the NCAA tournament.”
Florida State will advance to play the winner of the Cal/UTEP game that is taking place this afternoon in Austin, TX. The location of the game will be decided Sunday evening.