Oct. 14, 2002
Tallahassee, FL –
It is hard to argue that there has been a more dominant program in NCAA history than the North Carolina women’s soccer team. The Heels have won 17 National Championships since 1981 and 13 ACC Championships since 1987. The Tar Heels have set the NCAA record for consecutive wins five times and at one point won 92 straight games over a four season span. They are in the midst of an NCAA record 21st consecutive winning season and Carolina has lost just 24 times in 559 games. Tuesday night the second-ranked Tar Heels (11-1-2, 1-1-0) will bring all of that tradition to the Seminole Soccer Complex to face-off with 25th-ranked FSU (7-3-3, 1-1-1) at 7:00 p.m.
“Coach made the point to me this morning that we face North Carolina all the time so there is a little differently mentality for us when it come to their tradition and success,” said senior Cindy Schofield. “It’s probably different for other teams that have never faced them before. We have to look at them as another ACC team instead of looking at all of the program’s achievements. I think we will be prepared and we just have to go out and play well.”
The Tar Heels come into Tuesday night’s match averaging 3.42 goals per game (seventh-best in the NCAA) and allowing an average of just 0.48 goals per game (sixth-best in the nation). North Carolina has already recorded seven shutouts this year and freshman keeper Aly Winget is 15th in the nation with a GAA of 0.58. Lindsay Tarpley (10G 6A 26P) and Alyssa Ramsey (10G 4A 24P) are both amongst the Top 30 in the NCAA for points.
While there may be a perception that the Tar Heels might be losing their grip on their stranglehold over women’s soccer having missed out on the crown two of the last four years the numbers just don’t support that. Despite starting an ACC season at 0-1-0 for the first time ever in 2002, the Heels are 11-1-2 on the year and both of their ties came against nationally ranked programs (Nebraska and Portland). Nine of UNC’s 14 games this season have come against ranked teams and the Tar Heels have played 10 straight games away from home. In fact, North Carolina has played just two of its 14 games at Fetzer Field in 2002.
“This is probably the toughest match-up of the year, any year for that matter,” said head coach Patrick Baker. “They are so talented. Not only is their starting 11 a who’s who of women’s soccer but their first five or six players off the bench are National and Regional team players. It’s a great opportunity for us every year to test ourselves against the greatest program in NCAA women’s soccer history.”
While the Seminoles can’t match UNC’s 3.42 goals per game, the FSU offense has been in high gear over the last eight games. The Tribe is averaging more than 2.5 goals each time out over that stretch and is also scoring an average of two goals a game in ACC contests. After averaging just 1.3 goals per game in the ACC in 2000, the increase this year has a lot to do with the strong play of the Florida State forwards. In 2001, FSU forwards scored just three goals in the team’s first four conference games. This season, Seminole strikers have scored twice as many goals in once less game, accounting for all six of FSU’s goals in conference matches.
“I think we (the forwards) have had more success in the ACC because we have defended better individually and as a team,” said Schofield. “We have defended better up top and all 11 players on the field are defending together.
“We are finding ways to put the ball in the back of the net. We’ve only been shutout once this season so we have been creating chances and capitalizing. Hopefully that will continue Tuesday night and we can create some chances and be fortunate enough to stick them.”
Florida State has made incredible strides in narrowing the gap between the two programs since Baker took over at FSU in 1999. In the first eight matches between UNC and FSU, North Carolina outscored Florida State 58-1 and won all eight meetings. In the last five matches between the teams, FSU has recorded the school’s first ever win over the mighty Heels and been outscored just 17-4. The Seminoles have reduced their average goals allowed against UNC from almost 8/gm to just over 3/gm and are now averaging almost a goal a game themselves.
On top of narrowing the statistical gap between the two programs, the last time the Tar Heels traveled to the Seminole Soccer Complex they lost to an upstart FSU team that had never been to an NCAA Tournament at that point. The 3-2 double overtime win was the Seminoles first ever victory against UNC and marked a turning point in the young program’s history.
“There are always certain similarities you can carry over from a win like that. We talked about that with our team before Clemson, Florida and Wake came here to play this season,” said Baker. “Every year is different though. I just know that playing on the road in our conference is difficult. Playing at the Seminole Soccer Complex has been wonderful for us and hopefully that will continue with another great crowd tomorrow night.”
Florida State will have to step out just days after a heart-breaking double overtime loss to No. 7 Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons scored with just over two minutes remaining in the game sending FSU to just its second-ever loss under Baker against a ranked team under the lights in Tallahassee.
“It is going to be difficult. We’ve been stretched and we expended a lot of energy and emotion to comeback from two goals down versus Wake,” said Baker. “We forced overtime and then to see a potential tie slip away against the No. 7 team in the country on a late goal is kind of heart-breaking.
“Knowing our group they will collect themselves. I guarantee you Carolina won’t be feeling sorry for us and we can’t be feeling sorry for ourselves. We’ll use a good day of training today to get our minds right. Come tomorrow night we will need to bring a lot of energy and do what we can.”
With only two undefeated teams left in the conference, Tuesday night’s game isn’t just an opportunity to knock off the vaunted Tar Heels but a chance for FSU to improve its place in the ACC standings. The Seminoles are one of four ACC teams with a .500 conference record. Virginia and Duke are winless and have a combined ACC record of 0-4-1 while Wake and NC State are both 2-0-1.
“This game is huge in a sense of conference standings. We are sitting at 1-1-1 and UNC is at 1-1-0. The loser is going to drop below .500,” said Baker. “The conference is so competitive and we are arguably playing every year to be at .500 or just above that mark. Based on the records and the point of the season, it makes Tuesday night’s game that much more important.”
There is no charge for admission to the Seminole Soccer Complex and FSU will be looking to set its fourth attendance record of the season when the Tar Heels come calling Tuesday evening. In 2000, 1,582 fans watched FSU upset UNC, which was the largest crowd in Seminole Soccer Complex history before 1,603 came out this season and saw the Tribe upend Florida. If you cannot make it to Tallahassee for the game, follow the match with play-by-play live stats available only on seminoles.com.