Aug. 12, 2004
Tallahassee, FL –
FROM THE SIDELINES
Day two off three-a-days started like no other three-a-day session in the Patrick Baker era but by the end of the day, things couldn’t have been more familiar. With Tropical Storm Bonnie set to bear down on the Florida Panhandle, the chance of the first three-a-day in team history being rained out seemed like a real possibility. The storm was expected to reach land right as the Tribe was going to start stretching for their 7:00 a.m. fitness session. Thanks to a little help from the Florida State football program and linebacker coach Kevin Steele weather would not stop the Seminoles.
For the first time in team history the Seminoles conducted a fitness and training session INDOORS as the team took to the turf room. The 6,500 square foot room has a prescription turf surface utilized in many college and NFL stadiums. While the Seminoles ran 240’s and then conducted a two and a half hour technical training session, Bonnie moved through and left nothing but blue skies and warm weather. That opened the door for a late afternoon scrimmage under a hot sun for the first time in 2004 and finally it felt like three-a-days at FSU.
Head Coach Patrick Baker take on practicing in the turf room
“With the threat of the weather we had coming, we felt fortunate we were able to get anything in today. It didn’t look good this morning to practice outside. The football program was gracious enough to let us get in to the turf room on two different occasions and we got a great fitness session in.”
Alli Ferreri on playing on prescription artificial turf versus grass
“It is a different experience playing in here. You get to experience new aspects of soccer. The game is much quicker and we are in a smaller space. You have walls surrounding you and it is just a completely different experience than being out on our field.”
Joy McKenzie on a return to normalcy weather wise in the afternoon session
“It definitely brought back memories of past preseasons. I think it has been really nice having cooler weather up until the scrimmage. I think the newcomers got a sense of what we have gone through for four straight days the past three years. We still had a great practice because everyone stepped out no matter what the weather was like and played really hard.”
THE MORNING SESSION
Once again the team had a great early morning fitness session. The coaches again left impressed as the team ran 240’s in the turf room. The number of players who either met the standards or better their performance ran in the double digits for the second straight day. The fitness was so good head coach Patrick Baker was still beaming 14 hours later when we sat down to talk.
Head Coach Patrick Baker take on the fitness session
“Everybody did really well. I was very pleased with the performance. The efforts of the entire team was great and it was one of our best ever preseason performances when it comes to a fitness session.”
The team returned to the turf room at around 10:00 a.m. and conducted their second technical training session of three-a-days. Coach Baker started to introduce the team to some of the team defending concepts that are a key to his accomplishments at FSU. Team defense has always been stressed by Baker and it paid off in 2003 when FSU allowed just five goals all season in ACC play. That is the third fewest goals ever allowed in a season in ACC history. Notes and highlights from the session are below:
Different Group of Spectators – There is a lot of cross-sport support at Florida State but that usually applies to game day. It isn’t often you see athletes coming out to watch another team’s practice but that was the case during the technical session. Football players gathered at one end of the turf room and watched as coach Baker put the team through a tough training session. Leah Gallegos seemed to be one of the soccer players the football guys were trying to locate and get a glimpse of during the training. The group probably reached a total of 15 or 20 before linebacker coach Kevin Steele cleared them out sending the players into their individual meeting rooms, which surround the turf room.
They Heard That A Mile Away – One of the things the FSU players must adjust to every year is a new type of Nike ball and 2004 is no different. The new Total 90 Aerow balls are flying around the training facility and they really jump. It led to one of the scariest moments of the morning session though when Kelly Rowland was struck in the back of the head by a ball that probably left the foot a little faster and a little harder than her teammate expected. Rowland left the field but was back in full force for the evening session.
3 v 3
- The center of the Seminole defense was impressive again. Kelly Rowland and Katie Beal were just fierce during the drills. On three occasions the central defenders won a defensive challenge, turned the other way and scored goals for their team.
- Melissa Samokishyn and Rowland joined up for a goal as the combined on a pretty 1-2.
- Alli Ferreri got a goal as well as she picked up a turnover and converted it into a point as did Rachel McDowell who continues to have a fantastic camp.
- Leah Gallegos once again showed why she is one of the best players in all of the land. On top of scoring four times throughout the second session, it was her tenacious D all over the turf room that had her teammates clapping.
- Kelly Rowland not only combined on a goal and won a challenge to score a goal she also scored from long range as well just for good measure.
- When the team moved into 4v4, the keepers got into the game and Ali Mims had an impressive spurt right off the bat. After her team turned the ball over right in front of the net she made two big point blank saves before Libby Gianeskis saved the third chance off the line.
- Gianeskis was back at it again but this time on the offensive end. Her diagonal ball split the defense and landed right on to the foot of a charging Colette Swensen. The sophomore just directed it past the keeper and into the net.
- India Trotter got on the board as she had her back to goal, made a great turn and fired a shot past the keeper and through the cones.
- One of Gallegos’ prettiest goals of the day came when she switched feet and drove a left-footed shot just inside the cones as she pointed for her team. Gallegos followed that up by reminding everyone what she could do with the right as she picked up a loose ball and blasted a shot past the keeper just moments later.
- Jez Ratliff had a laser blast as well as the senior kept up her personal tradition of coming into camp as a better player than she was when the season ended the year before.
- The two Ali’s (that’s Ali Mims and Alli Ferreri) battled it out when Ferreri got in behind the defense and went 1-on-1 with the keeper but the redshirt sophomore closed down the scoring opportunity as she continues to wow people with her play after missing two years.
- Holly Peltzer got a goal of her own but much of the credit belonged to Erin Brown who sent a great ball right on to her foot just two yards in front of the goal.
- Freshman Jessica Vaccaro had no chance in goal on Erin Preston’s long-range shot that dipped and sailed through the cones.
- Janet Burke, who returns to FSU after a two-year hiatus, got a goal of her own as she picked up a turnover in close quarters and scored it inside the near post cone.
- Samokishyn turned in one of the best strikes of the 4v4 as she had a blast from the far side of the turn room that dropped a jaw or two.
- Veterans Camie Bybee and Alli Ferreri scored three goals in a matter of moments as Bybee started it off by taking one touch before a scoring strike. Ferreri picked off the ensuing pass and quickly doubled her team’s score. Then for good measure the junior got another goal just moments later.
- The “Best Assist Of The Day” award unofficially went to Swensen (I was the only voter) as she trapped a pass and in one motion threaded the needle sending the ball to Schnugg who buried it inside the near post.
- In the final 4v4 game there was some of the old and some of the new. The game started with Gallegos picking up an errant pass three yard in front of the goal. Guess what she did with that ball? If you say scored a goal, you win. The new was Vaccaro who was under heavy fire in one span and came up with three big diving saves. The game ended with another errant pass right to Gallegos and right in front of the net. As the media started to gather around you could hear them say that there wasn’t a keeper. Man or woman, in America that was going to stop Gallegos from there and nobody did all day.
Head Coach Patrick Baker on the technical training session
“Even though the turf room isn’t quite big enough for what we are trying to get accomplished, the girls showed great focus and did a great job of competing in a defensive session. We tried to layer in how we defend and what we want to do and how we want the players to communicate. I thought all the positions did a good job defending. We then played a little bit of small sided at the end and it was a chance to see people play in tighter spaces. That forces them to attack and defend and be in transition a little bit more. I walked away feeling like I saw some good things and that we got some things accomplished.”
Once again assistant coaches Robin Confer and Rob Thompson took charge of two teams for the second preseason scrimmage. For those of you who don’t know the FSU assistant coaches, they are competitive. Robin Confer is a three-time National Champion and a national player of thee year in 1997. It is safe to say she has never been 0-2 at any level of soccer but Thompson’s side got her again Thursday night. The highlights are below:
- Jez Ratliff is a player that gets better and better every season and she showed that again in Scrimmage Two. In the first half India Trotter sprung Ratliff down the right side of the pitch where she is deadly due to her speed but Jez has always been fast it is her skill that improves every year. That skill level was on display all afternoon as her cross was right on the money to Julia Schnugg who one-timed the shot forcing Joy McKenzie into a tough save.
- Katie Beal showed why she is an All-American early on. She lofted a beautiful ball over the top of the defense and straight to Schnugg who was making a beautiful run. She got end line and made a nice service but the support wasn’t there to turn the cross into a goal.
- Libby Gianeskis has made a name for herself with the veterans through two days and she showed that she can get forward from her position either in the center or on the outside in the Tribe’s back line. She made a great run and fed Toby Ranck end line but Ali Mims ended the threat as she cut off the cross before it turned dangerous.
- Ratliff continued to work hard and her teammates got rewarded. The senior worked relentlessly down the far sideline as she beat a player and came out of a pack running free behind the opposing defense. She sent an absolutely perfect ball to the head of Erin Preston who buried it back the other way putting the pennies (which are new and dark green, quite nice) up 1-0.
- Camie Bybee tried to match her fellow Oklahoman and tie the game in the waning moments of the first half as her long diagonal ball over the top of the defense found Toby Ranck on the far side of the game field nut the cross was once again snapped up by Mims.
- The white team tried to get the equalizer right out of the gate as Jessica Bell served a great ball out wide to a charging Toby Ranck. The impressive sophomore got off a great cross but there was no support in the 18 to try and finish the play.
- Gianeskis was moved around the back line by her coaches throughout the scrimmage but they couldn’t seem to find a place where she did not shine with her pace and instincts for the game.
- The pennies second goal of the game was a special one for Sage Sizemore. Marion Cagle took an absolutely brilliant corner that Sizemore latched on to as she skied above the defenders and headed home the second goal of the scrimmage.
- Rachel McDowell and Leah Gallegos tried to cut the lead in half at the end of the scrimmage as McDowell found the All-American at the top of the 18 but Ali Mims rounded out another great day by charging out and making the save.
Head Coach Patrick Baker on Scrimmage Two
“Tonight’s game was better than last night’s. Some people were playing more in their comfort zone. More people felt like they were a little more a part of things, a little bit more comfortable so they were able to showcase themselves more so tonight. We had two good goals off crosses, both were headers so that was nice. Players are starting to emerge and separate themselves even on day two.”
Head Coach Patrick Baker on finally seeing the sun
“It was great to see the sun start to poke through mid-afternoon. The humidity wasn’t as bad as it normally is but the sun was out and it definitely felt like the three-a-days of old. I do think the sunshine and warmth was a positive in the afternoon. It didn’t detract like it normally would if it was the second hot day in a row.”
Senior Marion Cagle on how three-a-days in 2004 are different than the last three years
“This year everyone came in with a higher standard of fitness. We are better prepared than any other year. The training sessions are more intense and competitive. Based on last night’s game the level of play is a lot higher than it was in year’s past.”
Colorado native Melissa Samokishyn on the hurricane threat in Tallahassee
“I have never experienced a hurricane. There is so much rain. I have never seen it rain like this before. The sky looks crazy and you just aren’t sure what is going to come out of it.”
Freshman Armani Rice talking about the level of soccer through the first two days
“Yesterday I was really nervous and that applied to all the freshmen. We just tried to get used to playing with new people as quickly as we could. The biggest difference to me is how much faster the pace is in the college game. A lot of times I would know what to do but I wouldn’t get it done quick enough.”