Aug. 30, 2001
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
The 12th-ranked Florida State soccer team begins its quest for a second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth Friday night at the Seminole Soccer Complex. The Seminoles host regular season Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) champions George Mason Friday at 7:00 p.m. and Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) champions Loyola (Md) on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. The games are part of the second-annual Seminole Soccer Tournament being held at FSU’s Seminole Soccer Complex.
Both of FSU’s opponents this weekend finished atop their respective conferences last season. George Mason enters the season after finishing in a first-place tie in the CAA in 2000 and garnering the No. 1 seed in the conference’s postseason tournament. The Patriots posted a 12-9 record last year and finished the regular season on a 6-2 run. All three of GMU’s top goal scorers return from a season ago and the Patriots were ranked as high as 23rd in 2000.
“George Mason tied for the regular season title in a very strong conference,” said head coach Patrick Baker. “There are a lot of talented players and coaches in the CAA and this should be a very stiff test for us. It makes it even more difficult since we never faced either of this weekend’s opponents.”
The Seminoles will play in the finale of the 2001 Seminole Soccer Tournament Sunday when they face Loyola (Md) College. The Greyhounds posted a perfect 9-0 record in the MAAC last season and are predicted to win the conference again this year. Loyola set a program record by winning 12 straight games last season. The Greyhounds also finished second in the nation in shutout percentage but, like FSU, the Greyhounds enter the 2001 season with freshman goalkeeper in the net.
“Loyola won the MAAC Championship last year and were involved in a play-in game to go to the NCAA Tournament,” said Baker. “They are coming back very excited and hoping to capitalize on their strong season in 2000. This tournament will be a challenge for us because we play two strong teams and we are trying to seek a new identity for ourselves. This is a different team and we can’t just live off of last year’s accomplishments.”
Florida State enters the season with its highest-ever ranking after its unprecedented 2000 campaign. The Seminoles are a consensus preseason top 20 pick for the first time in program history and added the nation’s eighth-ranked recruiting class to a team that features seven returning starters from last year’s record-breaking squad. Friday night’s season-opener marks the second year in a row that FSU opens its season under the lights at home. Last season, the Seminoles began their historic run to the Sweet 16 by downing No. 6 Florida 3-2 and are looking for a similar start this year.
“I think winning this weekend is really important,” said Meredith Jones. “Looking back at last season, if we don’t beat the Gators on opening night, I don’t think we have the type of season we ended up having. That opening night win last year really set the tone for the season. It gave us a big confidence boost and I think we need that again this year. We are playing as a team in practice but I think the first fifteen minutes of Friday’s game will be very important. That will set the tone for the rest of the game and the season.”
The first month of the season will be an important one for FSU. Florida State plays six of its eight home games during the season’s first four weeks. The Seminoles also face four top 20 teams in September including No. 2 Portland and No. 6 Santa Clara at the Wake Forest/Nike Invitational next weekend.
“It is important to get off to a good start so we can put ourselves in a good position to face an extremely tough schedule this year,” said senior Marte Vik Edvardsen. “Many of our most difficult games are on the road this season so we have to get wins when we are playing on our home field. It is always easier to play at our stadium because we have such great fan support.”
The Seminole Soccer Tournament also features the University of Miami and all four games this weekend will take place at the Seminole Soccer Complex on the campus of Florida State University. Admission to this weekend’s tournament, and all regular season matches are free. For more information please log on to www.seminoles.com the official website for Florida State University athletics.
Seminole Soccer Tournament Schedule
Friday, August 31, 2001
4:30 p.m. Loyola (Md) vs. University of Miami 7:00 p.m. Florida State University vs. George Mason
Sunday, September 2, 2001
12:00 p.m. University of Miami vs. George Mason 2:00 p.m. Florida State University vs. Loyola (Md)