Nov. 12, 2006
Tallahassee, FL – For the third time in four years and the fourth time in program history, the Florida State soccer team will play in the round of 16 at the NCAA Soccer Tournament. The second-seeded Seminoles scored three goals in the first 27 minutes of its match with California (12-5-5) and won 3-1 to move into the third round of NCAA Tournament play versus third-seeded Illinois (16-7) next week. Florida State (16-3-4) got goals from three different players to storm out to a 3-0 lead that Cal was never able to recover from.
“If we can play better than we did in the first half, I’d been surprised,” said Florida State Head Coach Mark Krikorian. “I thought in the first half we were absolutely fantastic. The attacking was great, the defending was crisp and solid and I thought it was a heck of a performance.
“Whatever it was I said to them at halftime, I’ll have to get rid of that halftime speech. It didn’t work too well. I thought we came off slow and sluggish and we let Cal back into the game. Credit to Cal for the work and the pushing and getting themselves back into the game. Overall it’s nice to move on to the round of 16. We’re looking forward to next weekend’s game.”
For the second straight game FSU scored three goals in the first half after never scoring more than three goals in an entire game the first 21 games of the season. With six goals Friday and three Sunday, the Seminoles scored more goals this weekend than they did in the previous six games entering postseason play.
“We talk often about creating chances,” said Krikorian. “Good players when they get enough chances are going to finish their chances. Throughout the balance of the season we’ve had a lot of chances. Some games the ball has been bouncing around the penalty box, we have a free shot and hit the ball right at the goalkeeper or right at the post or off a defender. Sometimes that’s a little bit of momentum and we are trying to stay on the same path of wanting to create those chances.”
Selin Kuralay recorded the game’s first goal and assisted on India Trotter’s second goal, which proved to be the game-winner. It was the seventh NCAA Tournament goal for Trotter and the fourth game-winner both are records for Florida State. Mami Yamaguchi completed the Seminoles scoring just 27 minutes into the match.
Just like they did Friday in a 6-0 win over Jacksonville, the Seminoles wasted little time getting ahead. Just seven minutes into the match Kuralay struck. After going three games without a goal for the first time all season coming into Sunday’s match, Kuralay broke her longest goalless streak of the season in beautiful fashion. She combined with Mami Yamaguchi on an attack developing down the left wing. The Golden Bear defense was able to win the ball but the clearance ended up right back at Kuralay. The junior took a look and sent a picture-perfect shot to the near-post, upper 90 from about 22 yards away.
“Coach was telling me before the game to have a couple of shots if I can, I don’t think I’ve been shooting enough in the past few games,” said Kuralay. “I felt really confident in the warm-up and I just let one fly and who knew?”
“We talked about Selin Kuralay’s shot she has from midfield, it’s an incredibly dangerous and a great shot she has,” said California Head Coach Kevin Boyd. “No one’s ever going to save that ball. We should have been tighter on her, we didn’t close that ball and our clear was right into the middle to her so we kind of helped her a little on it. But what a great shot.”
With California still a little shell-shocked from the early goal FSU struck again just over four minutes later. Kuralay was once again at the center of the goal. This time the Australian saw Trotter making a run down the left side of the pitch. Kuralay hit a bending service with the outside of her foot that was placed perfectly for Trotter to run onto. The senior picked up the service and streaked to the far side of the box. When she got about eight yards away, Trotter sent a low shot back the other way for FSU’s second goal.
“We were concerned with India Trotter’s pace, her running behind us and her ability to run at us and obviously that second goal came out of her running behind us,” said Boyd.
The Seminoles continued the first half attack and once again got on the board. Senior Toby Ranck made a great play down in the corner of the box on the left side. The midfielder, who was being defended one-on-one, beat her player and sent a service to the backpost where Yamaguchi won the ball in the air and headed it home for the goal.
After dominating the first half, Cal came out and chipped away at the Florida State lead just 3:14 out of the lockerrom. The goal came after a very dangerous Golden Bear attack. Katie Ratican sent Lisa Kevorkian in on the left side of the box where she was one-on-one with FSU keeper Ali Mims. The sixth-year senior made a remarkable save on the shot blocking it out of bounds but setting California up with a corner and they cashed in. Ratican sent a ball through the box that Mims misjudged the service and it ended up going in at the backpost untouched.
“After it went over my head I have no idea what happened to it,” said Mims of the corner kick. “I tried to go up for it and I thought I could time it well, it kind of got caught up in the wind a little bit. I know Cal’s strategy as far as how they want to offensively do corner kicks and there was a lot of traffic in there. I tried to get a hand on it but once it went over my head I misjudged it and I really have no idea what happened.”
“We’ve always been dangerous on corner kicks and primarily myself and a few other players have been taking them this year and we know exactly where we need to hit the ball,” said Ratican. “The wind was just wicked today and the wind just took it and it kind of went in on its own. That’s kind of where I was going anyways and our players were supposed to be there so if it hadn’t gone in on its own I know someone would have been there for it.”
California continued to apply heavy pressure over the next 20 minutes or so but could not get any closer. The Seminoles, who out shot Cal 16-3 in the first half and took five corners to none, were on their heels for a great deal of the second period. California held a 9-2 shot advantage in the second period and a 4-0 edge in corners but they could never get any closer than 3-1.
“I felt our group showed some character and kind of played uphill in the second half,” said Krikorian. “After we gave an early goal, sometimes you can let that really put you down, but they fought hard and fought tough. I’m not sure we always played the smartest ball that we could have to break their pressure, but it is a good sign of character that they can stay in there and defend and do what they had to do. Cal came out with a lot of energy and did a great job in the second half.”
“Like Ali (Mims) said, I don’t think we came out as sharp and that put us into some sticky situations,” said defender Libby Gianeskis of the second half. “But we fought through it and only allowed one goal. So we kept fighting to keep the score 3-1 and came out of it with a win.”
Florida State advances to face No. 15 Illinois next weekend. Game time and site will be determined Sunday evening and will be released on the official website for Seminole athletics at Seminoles.com Monday morning.