Aug. 26, 2005
Los Angeles, CA – The FSU soccer team isn’t accustomed to starting a season unranked and on Friday they made a statement that pollsters and the rest of the country should not overlook them in 2005. The Seminoles opened their campaign with a resounding 4-0 win over No. 18 USC. Three new Seminoles scored goals as FSU took a 1-0 lead and then poured in three in the second half to open the season with a win over a ranked team for the third time in the last six years.
“I don’t think we came into the game today with a chip on our shoulder about not being ranked,” said FSU team captain and Hermann Trophy candidate Kelly Rowland. “We thought we may surprise a few people because they really didn’t know what was going on in Tallahassee. This is a result that will turn some heads but we have to build on it.”
“I thought at times in the first half we were a little bit sloppy but in the second half were we able to develop a nice rhythm to the game,” said first year head coach Mark Krikorian. “In the second half we put together some nice attacks, which made it a little easier for us to defend. This feels good right now. We played some decent soccer. We think we have some pretty good pieces but we know it will be about hard work, dedication and discipline if we want to continue to have success.”
The Seminoles and Women of Troy both started a lot of new faces Friday. FSU had only three players who started regularly in 2004 on the field when they opened the season Friday and the Women of Troy started five freshmen. The unfamiliarity showed for both teams early on until Viola Odebrecht put FSU on top with the first goal of her Florida State career 20 minutes in but in the second half as the Tribe got more familiar they exploded for three more goals.
“In fairness to USC they are a young team with a lot of new players and when we scored relatively early it can be unsettling for a young team,” said Krikorian. “I am sure if the shoe had been on the other foot and they scored an early goal on us we might have been a little unsettled.”
“I think the first goal is always important,” said Odebrecht. “It puts a little more pressure on the other team. They start to press a little more and attack when they fall behind. It was an advantage for us to get out to a good start.”
Odebrecht’s first ever FSU goal was all the Seminoles would need as the revamped defense posted an opening day shutout for just the second time in school history. New comers Sarah Wagenfuhr and Katrin Schmidt joined Rowland and Teresa Rivera to hold the dangerous USC attack to just three shots on frame.
“It was excellent to shut out a team as talented as USC,” said Wagenfuhr. “We worked well together and brought a lot of intensity to the game and it paid off. I felt confident in this team and our back four coming into the game so this is a great result for us.”
“(Assistant coach) Erica Walsh has done one great job with the defense,” said Krikorian. “I thought our back four was very organized. Ali Mims was solid in the net and the team defending was very good. Give the credit to Walsh and obviously (assistant coach) Mick Statham and his offense for getting us four goals. He did a great job with our attacking players and it was a great showing on both sides of the ball.”
Ali Mims made her triumphant return to the FSU net recording her first clean sheet since October 5, 2001 a 5-0 victory over UCF. After more than 20 surgical procedures to repair a fractured fibula suffered in the 2002 preseason, Mims started for just the second time in the last four years and recorded one save and her third career shutout.
“I thought it was amazing to record a shutout as a team especially versus a great group of front runners like they have at USC,” said Mims. “This was a great accomplishment for our group and a very good starting point for our defense. A shutout builds confidence and sets a standard for all the games ahead.”
Neither team generated much of an attack in the first 15 minutes as both showed the effects of so many new starters. FSU’s lone chance came on an Odebrecht shot from about 20 yards out that just sailed over the top of the crossbar. For USC, the only time the Women of Troy threatened the goal was on a corner kick.
In the 20th minute the Seminoles had an opportunity on a set piece on the far sideline. Teresa Rivera launched a ball thru the box that sailed to the back post but no Seminole was able to latch on.
A minute later the Tribe did break on top. Junior All-American candidate India Trotter sent a high ball from midfield to the top of the 18 where Odebrecht was between a few USC defenders. The German National Team player gathered the pass in and saw USC keeper Veronica Simonton off her line. Odebrecht shot over the top of the keeper and into the net for her first collegiate goal.
“I was a little confused after I got the pass but I looked up and saw the keeper coming off her line,” said Odebrecht. “I wasn’t sure whether she was coming out to get the ball but I just lofted it up over the top and into the net. It was lucky.
“It was pretty cool to score the first goal of the season for this team in my first game with FSU. It isn’t important who scores the goals though. The main thing is that we win as a team. It was a nice feeling to score that first goal but it isn’t important to me as much as the win.”
Odebrecht’s goal was the lone goal of the first half but just two minutes into the second half reserve Ceci Shell made an impact giving FSU a 2-0 advantage. Melissa Samokishyn made a great run down the near flank and sent a dangerous cross along the top of the six. Simonton had trouble hanging on to the cross and Shell was there to bury the goal.
“That was wonderful,” said Shell. “I prayed that I could help the team today and it worked. I knew I had to follow the ball and Mel made a great pass. The ball ended up free and I had to finish the chance.”
Thirty minutes later another newcomer and returner combined to score for the third time in the game. This time it was Australian Sel Kuralay with the goal off a Rowland assist. Rowland dropped a short throw-in to Kuralay just outside the top of the 18. The Australian fired a shot through traffic beating the keeper at the near post.
“Kelly did a great job getting me the ball on the throw-in,” said Kuralay. “I think it was a good spot by Kelly to find me and I just felt confident I could take a chance on frame because I saw the goalie on the left post. The near post was open so I took a quick shot and it went in.”
“I have to say I have been pleasantly surprised by how quickly the newcomers and returning players have combined on and off the field,” said Krikorian. “I am very happy with the team’s attitude and mentality. The kids generally seem to really like each other. That is important. We have the foundation of a pretty good team.”
The Seminoles sealed the game in the 86th minute with the goal of the match. Mami Yamaguchi and Samokishyn combined on a give and go to send Trotter in. The junior got endline about 12 yards out at the near post. She bent a shot to the upper corner at the back post for her fourth career goal.
“I went to cross the ball when I noticed the keeper was a little off her line so I decided to try and hit it backpost,” said Trotter. “I got a little bend on the ball and it went in. I have never scored a goal like that before in a game.
“Personally it felt good to get off to a good start but mostly I am just happy that we won today. A win is a win and what I am most excited about is that we won today as a team.”
The season opening win improved Krikorian’s career record to 11-1 on opening day and the Seminoles improved to 6-4-1 all time in season openers. It is the third time since 2000 that FSU has opened a campaign with a win over a ranked team but the first time they have done it on the road.
“I think this was a great result for us,” said Rowland. “We recorded a shutout and had a great showing offensively but all of our focus is now on Loyal Marymount Sunday. What we did today is a starting point and we need to build on that. We will enjoy this tonight and then focus on LMU tomorrow.”
The Seminoles will have the day off Saturday before concluding their west coast trek at LMU Sunday. Game time is set for 4:00 p.m. EST. Fans can follow all the action live as it unfolds exclusively via Game Tracker at www.seminoles.com, the official athletic website of Florida State University.