Nov. 16, 2002
Tallahassee, FL –
For the third straight season the 21st-ranked FSU soccer team (12-6-3) will play for the right to go to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The Seminoles will face the Auburn Tigers (15-4-2) Sunday, November 18 at 1:00 p.m. at the Seminole Soccer Complex with a chance to advance to the program’s second Sweet 16 in the last three years. This is the second consecutive season Auburn and FSU have met in the NCAA Tournament.
“We have been very fortunate to be in the NCAA Tournament for three straight years now,” said head coach Patrick Baker. “The first year your just happy to be there and you don’t really know what to expect. We beat Jacksonville at home, beat the Gators in Gainesville and then faced a wonderful Clemson team. Our second year in we had tasted the Sweet 16 and we wanted to go back. We were able to sneak a goal past Auburn and then ran into Clemson again where we came up a little short.
“This year all we’ve done is put uorselves in position to get back. The win over Ole Miss gives us a chance to go but that doesn’t mean we’re going to get there. I like the fact we are playing at home though.”
This is the first time the Seminoles have had a chance to move on to the Sweet 16 on their own field. In 2000, the NCAA Tournament was a 48-team field so FSU was able to host a first-round match but had to travel to UF to make it through to the final 16 teams. With their opening round win over Ole Miss Friday night, FSU gave itself the chance to equal its farthest advancement in front of their home crowd who has turned out in record numbers in 2002.
The 972 fans who came out to see the Garnet and Gold win their third straight NCAA Tournament opener Friday night made up the largest postseason crowd to ever watch a game at the Seminole Soccer Complex. It was the seventh-largest crowd in program history and four of the seven largest crowds in team history have now come this season.
Friday night’s crowd was treated to a stellar defensive performance by the FSU backline. The Tribe defense registered its second shutout in NCAA Tournament play in its last three games and has allowed just one goal in 270 consecutive minutes in NCAA Tournament action dating back to 2001.
“Our mentality changes in the postseason because we know if we loose, we are done,” said 2001 first team freshman All-American Katie Beal. “Getting a shutout last night will allow us to carry confidence into tomorrow’s match versus Auburn.”
The Seminoles will have their hands full with another talented SEC offense Sunday. Not only have the Tigers scored more goals in 2002 than FSU (45 to 44), but they have a more even goal distribution amongst their roster than Florida State. Seminole strikers Cindy Schofield and Leah Gallegos have combined to account for 48% of the teams goals this year. No Tiger player has more than eight goals this season but seven players have scored three or more goals.
Sarah Power and Christina Culver lead the squad with eight goals a piece while sophomore Sarah Steinmann is first on the squad with 21 points on the year. The Tigers have struggled offensively as of late scoring just four goals in its last five matches while posting a 2-1-1 record over that span but they showed signs of life with their two goals in the NCAA opening win over UCF Friday.
“They play three up top so that will be different from last night so we’ll have to be more careful and safe in the back,” said Beal. “They have a great keeper so it will be a big challenge for us but that is always fun.”
Once again the Seminole offense will need to find a way to breakdown one of the nation’s best defenses, which happens to be in front of one of college soccer’s top goalkeepers. The Tigers have allowed just 16 goals all season and have shutout their opponents 11 times in 21 games. Ole Miss came into the NCAA Tournament having allowed 20 goals all season and Florida State was able to find weaknesses in the Rebels backline. The difference in Sunday’s game is Megan Rivera.
Rivera, a keeper on the U-19 US National team, came into the NCAA Tournament with the nation’s 22nd-best GAA and lowered that number by shutting out UCF Friday. The sophomore from Miami is allowing about two goals every three games and her 0.72 GAA is the lowest in the SEC.
“We need to possess the ball tomorrow and if they do come out in a 4-3-3 we will have to be able to attack them out wide,” said junior Summer Corum. “I think our offense has been clicking as of late because we’ve been moving the ball a little faster taking just one or two touches. We are trying to change the point of attack, find the hot player and then move forward as a group. ”
The Tigers are in the midst of an unprecedented season. Not only did Auburn advance in the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever Friday night but it also won its first-ever SEC regular season title this year. Despite carrying a No. 1 seeding into the conference tournament, the Tigers were ousted in the first round by LSU.
“Auburn is the regular season champion of the SEC. They have a wonderful group of players and they are very well coached. It is going to be a battle. Very similar to last year, one goal either way will probably make the difference.”
With Friday night’s win over the Rebels, Florida State is now 3-0-0 all-time in the NCAA Tournament versus SEC teams. Not only will the Seminoles get the opportunity to raise that to 4-0-0, they will also have the chance to register two wins in NCAA Tournament play versus one team for the first time in program history.
“There is no reason why we have had success versus SEC opponents in the tournament other than we have been very fortunate in those games,” said Baker. “Every one of those contests has been extremely close and if we played another three times who knows what the outcome would be.”
Tickets for Sunday’s game are currently available. They can be ordered over the phone at (850) 644-1830 or 1-888-FSU-NoLE and can also be ordered on-line at www.seminoles.com. Tickets for adults are $7.00 per session. Tickets for students, children 3-18 and seniors (over 50) are $5.00 per session and children under the age of two will be admitted at no charge.
For the latest information on the 2002 NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament in Tallahassee, please log on to www.seminoles.com and visit our NCAA Tournament site. There is information on all four teams, live stats links, selection show video, rosters and much more.