Oct. 22, 2004
Tallahassee, FL – There is a reason that No. 1 North Carolina has lost just 11 regular season games in 22 years and that only one team has ever beat them twice in regular season play. The ninth-ranked FSU soccer team, who beat the Tar Heels in Tallahassee in 2000, learned that lesson Friday night. In front of a record crowd of 1,504 fans, the third-largest in school history, UNC (15-0-1, 8-0-0) downed FSU 4-0 thanks in large part to Olympian Heather O’Reilly’s hat trick. The loss extended UNC’s unbeaten streak to 43 games and was the most lopsided defeat for FSU (12-4-1, 5-3-1) since the last time UNC came to town in 2002 and defeated the Tribe 5-1.
“North Carolina showed us why they are the number one team in the country tonight,” said head coach Patrick Baker. “We knew it was going to take a valiant effort and tonight we just weren’t up for the task. The standard was shown to us tonight. If we are fortunate to see them again in the ACC Tournament, we have two weeks to make sure we have a better showing. We saw the standard of what it is going to take to win a championship.”
Carolina took control of the game early and went to halftime with a 1-0 lead courtesy of Lori Chalupny’s sixth goal of the year. In the second half, FSU put together more quality chances but O’Reilly couldn’t be stopped. The national team forward, who played in Athens on the gold medal winning US soccer team, scored three goals in a 20-minute span in the second frame to put the game out of reach. It was the first hat trick scored against the Seminoles since Kansas’ Caroline Smith pulled off the feat early last season. Despite the loss, FSU finished with its second-best ACC record ever and will finish in the top half of the conference for the fourth straight season.
“I am happy how we finished off the season as far as conference play is concerned,” said Baker. “If someone had said to me that in our final seven ACC games we would go 5-1-1, I would have raised my hand and said `where do I sign up’. Our goal is to finish in the top half of the conference and we did that for the fourth consecutive season.”
The Seminoles were put under the gun from the get go as just four minutes in all-region goalkeeper Joy McKenzie was immediately tested. Anne Morrell’s shot forced McKenzie to make a diving save and then on the ensuing corner kick, Morrell had another shot bounce off the post. Less than 15 minutes later the Heels were up 1-0 on Chalupny’s goal with an assist from O’Reilly, her first of seven points on the night.
“Early on, we had two freshmen starting on the left side and neither had made more than five career starts,” said Baker. “They were a little frantic but I don’t think the early part of the game cost them and I don’t think the goal was their fault. We just weren’t sharp. Part of that was North Carolina and part of that was us.”
The Tribe really only had one significant chance on goal in the first half and it was cleaned up easily by Aly Winget who beat Julia Schnugg to a pass over the restraining line that the sophomore attempted to run on to.
The Heels did generate another scoring opportunity though but they once again had a hard time getting the ball past McKenzie. Kacey White made a long run from the right side of the pitch and across the top of the 18 before pulling the trigger. McKenzie mad another diving save to keep the Tribe in the game at 1-0.
“I told our team at halftime that I felt like Joy kept us in the game,” said Baker. “She made three spectacular saves in the first half. Whether right or wrong, you are not going to have a majority of the possession versus Carolina. They are going to out shoot you. You can bend but can’t break and I thought we were fairly effective in doing that in the first half. Joy is a great keeper and she gave us probably the best opportunity to win tonight”
Just three minutes out of the locker room O’Reilly went to work. The goal came off a shot by Jamie Gilbert that McKenzie just couldn’t get a handle on and O’Reilly was waiting right there to poke in the loose ball. Just over 15 minutes later the sophomore sensation was at it again as she added her second and third goals of the game just over four minutes apart. The hat trick was the first of her career.
“We talked about her (O’Reilly) before the game,” said Baker. “She just finished playing in the Olympics and her understanding of the game is a different level. Our kids see that on TV occasionally but they don’t see it live. I would have paid money to see O’Reilly and (Lori) Chalupny play tonight. They put on a great show.”
The disappointing result not withstanding, the Tribe is still on pace to register the best regular season mark in team history. If the Seminoles are able to down UCF next Thursday, the Tribe will set records for the most regular season wins, the fewest regular season losses, the most home wins in a season and the highest regular season winning percentage in school history.
“This is just one game,” said Baker. “This is probably our toughest defeat in the last two or three years but it is one night. I think the most important thing will be how we all re-group from this. We played very well against them in 2002 and lost 5-1. We went on to make the Sweet 16 that year. This team is very capable and our focus now needs to be on UCF. There are other games that will dictate where we are seeded in the ACC but I like our chances as long as we don’t have to face this team in the first game.”
The 1,504 fans that turned out to see the game were the fifth crowd of 1000 or more fans to watch a regular FSU soccer game in 2004. That is a new single season record for FSU attendance. It beats the mark set by last year’s team when four crowds of 1000 or more fans showed up for a regular season contest.
“This was a great college soccer atmosphere and I can’t thank the fans and the people of Tallahassee enough for coming out tonight,” said Baker. “This is a wonderful place to play when the stands are full and I just wish we could have sent them home a little bit happier but it sure wasn’t due to a lack of support.”
The Tribe closes out the 2004 regular season at home Thursday, October 28. The Tribe will honor their six seniors and then take the field to face in-state rival UCF (12-3-1) in a match slated to begin at 7:00 p.m. The Sunshine Network will broadcast the game live throughout Florida and a live Internet radio broadcast will also be available. Live play-by-play through Game Tracker will be available as well exclusively by logging on to seminoles.com, the official athletic website for Florida State University.