Sept. 6, 2005
Last season UCF recorded its first victory in the series since 1998, the inaugural meeting between the teams. Florida State took a 2-0 lead going into halftime but the Golden Knights scored two goals in a span of five minutes equalizing the match with 30 minutes remaining. UCF then scored the game-winner with just :45 left in regulation. The three goals scored by the Knights last season equaled their total goal production from the first five meetings in the series combined. Despite the discrepancy is goals scored in the series lately, FSU doesn’t not have a single player who has scored a career goal versus the Knights while UCF returns two of its three goal scorers from last year’s game. UCF’s 2004 victory snapped FSU’s four-game winning streak in the series in which FSU had outscored UCF 14-2. The Golden Knights also became the first-team ever to halt an FSU four-game series winning streak. The Seminoles posted four-game win streaks versus four other teams in school history (FIU, Jacksonville, Miami and USF) and in every one of those series FSU went on to improve the win streak to five games. The only time UCF has defeated the Seminoles in Orlando came in 1998 winning 1-0. The last time the Garnet & Gold traveled to Orlando, they defeated UCF 3-0 in a rain-delayed contest.
SERIES RECORD: FSU leads 4-2
IN ORLANDO: FSU leads 2-1
WIN STREAK: UCF has won 1 in a row
LAST MEETING: UCF 3 FSU 2 (2004)
THE DRIVE FOR FIVE
Florida State should have plenty of incentive going into Wednesday night’s showdown with UCF. Not only is it a big regional contest but UCF is the last team to beat FSU at home. After its comeback victory from a 2-0 deficit last year, the Golden Knights should have FSU’s attention. There is one other carrot dangling in front of the Seminoles’ collective faces in Orlando Wednesday night. Florida State will go after its fifth straight win, which would tie the longest winning streak in FSU soccer history. Two Seminole squads have posted five game winning streaks previously. The 2000 and 2003 squads both pulled off that feat but neither did it to start a season. Both of those winning streaks came to an end versus ACC opponents on the road. In 2003 it was a loss at Virginia and in 2000 it was a tie at NC State. A win at UCF would also tie FSU’s longest road winning streak in team history. The record is five wins and was established by the 1996 club. FSU won its last two road games of the 2004 season (not counting neutral site ties at the ACC and NCAA Tournaments) and won its first two road games this season. That put the Seminoles on a four-game road winning streak heading into Wednesday night’s game.
Florida State got off to a great start on the road in 2005. The Seminoles opened the season in California and upset No. 18 USC and then came back from a 1-0 deficit to beat LMU in double OT. That experience is going to serve the Seminoles well as they face their toughest road trip of the season. Florida State will play its next three games away from home versus teams that played in the 2004 NCAA Tournament. The trek begins with UCF then continues at Ole Miss and winds up in Gainesville versus a top ten Florida squad. The Seminoles face 11 teams that made the NCAA’s last year and more than a quarter of those games will come in the next 10 days. This is not the only run of games versus tournament teams facing FSU this year. The Garnet & Gold will play four straight tourney teams in Virginia, Virginia Tech, Maryland and BC later in the season but only two of those four games will be away from home.
STARTING ON THE RIGHT FOOT
New FSU Head Coach Mark Krikorian couldn’t have asked for a better start for his FSU squad or his Seminole career. The first year boss has led the Seminoles to a 4-0 record marking the first time in program history that FSU has opened a campaign with four straight wins. The Seminoles aren’t just winning, they are dominating games. Florida State has outscored its opponents 15-1 this season. The 15 goals scored in just four games are more than half of the 29 goals the 2004 squad scored in all 20 games last year. FSU is currently averaging 3.60 goals per game. While it is early, that is more than a goal better than the highest-average in team history (2.55) set by the 1996 team and almost 2 ½ times the average goals per game scored by last year’s club, which had the best regular season winning percentage in school history. While shots can be one of the most misleading stats in the game of soccer, when combined with the a sizeable edge in goals scored, it can tell you something about offensive domination. In four games, FSU has out shot its competition 91-28 for an average of 23-7 per game. FSU’s average of 22.8 shots take per contest is currently over 5.5 shots per game more than the single season record set back in 2003 (17.15). Maybe an even more telling stat is corner kicks and Florida State has dominated in that area as well. The Seminoles have taken 30 corners in four games compared to only eight for their opponents. FSU didn’t allow a single corner to JU marking the 16th time in school history the Seminoles have held an opponent without a corner kick. The last time that happened was 2003 versus Jacksonville as well.
YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY
With so much change at FSU, it wasn’t a total surprise that the Seminoles came into to 2005 unranked in all four college soccer polls but the fact that FSU wasn’t even receiving votes especially in some of the polls that listed 35 teams was slightly eye-opening. A lot has changed in the last two weeks. Florida State is now a consensus Top 20 team with a ranking as high as 12 and no lower than 17. When Soccer America released its poll this week, FSU was up to 12th in the nation. The only two teams in the nation to start the season unranked and make it into the top 12 of the Soccer America poll this week were Wake Forest (10) and Florida State (12). The Seminoles had a similar meteoric rise in the NSCAA poll where they currently sit 16th. Only Pepperdine has gone from unranked to a higher spot in this week’s NSCAA poll as they sit just one place ahead of FSU at No. 15.
HOT TO TROT
All-America candidate India Trotter has been one of the most important pieces to Florida State‘s success over the last two years but she was quite often overlooked as a holding midfielder. This year Trotter is being asked to play a more prominent role in the offense and she is showing she is quite capable of that. Through just four games, Trotter already has bested her career total for goals and is just three points away from tying her career total in that category as well. Coming into 2005, Trotter had netted three goals in the first 46 games of her career. This season she already has four goals in four games. She had never recorded a multi-goal game in her FSU career until her two goals versus Jacksonville on Thursday. In the one game alone versus the Dolphins, Trotter doubled her total points from the entire 2004 season when she recorded two. Trotter also scored goals in back-to-back games for the first time in her career when she scored against JU and Mercer last week. The junior now has nine points on the season, which is second best on the team and just one shy of her single season best of 10 set in her freshman campaign.
While Sel Kuralay’s run of goals in three straight games came to an end versus Mercer Saturday, that hasn’t diminished the unbelievable start the Australian National team player has gotten off to. Kuralay leads the team with 12 points, five goals and two game-winners. She is already just two goals shy of equaling FSU’s leading goal scorer from the entire 2004 season, which covered 20 games. She already has two multi-goal games, which is more than the entire team had last year. Kuralay is just the second player in school history to score at least one goal in the first three games of the season joining Erin Grimsley who did that in 1996. Only one player in FSU history has ever scored more goals through the first four games of a season than Kuralay. Maren Vik Edvardsen netted six goals in the first four games of the 1998 campaign.
Hermann Trophy candidate Kelly Rowland is having a record-breaking career for the Seminoles. The defender already owns the career record for points by a defender and now has the career assists record as well with 13. She set the mark with her assist versus JU, which came appropriately off a throw-in. Of Rowland’s 13 career assists, nine have come off throw-ins and more remarkably over half of those have come versus ranked opponents. Rowland has recorded throw-in assists versus #21 Ole Miss and #14 Maryland in 2003, versus #14 Arizona State and #6 Florida in 2004 and versus #18 USC this season. Last season she led FSU with seven assists of which four came off long throws, which was a career high. This year she already has two assists off throw-ins in just four games.
#12 Ole Miss
#14 Arizona State
MIM-IMUM GOALS ALLOWED
The return of Ali Mims to the Seminole goal is one of the most uplifting stories not just for the FSU soccer team but for the whole athletic department. After fracturing her leg in the preseason of 2002, Mims underwent more than 20 surgical procedures in an effort to return to the pitch. Last season she made it into three matches but that is nothing compared to what she is doing in 2005. Mims has started all four games for FSU this season and is a perfect 4-0 with a GAA of 0.24. She has allowed just one goal in over 370 minutes of action. She is currently in the midst of a shutout streak that is nearing 200 minutes (186:40). Mims has recorded two shutouts this year which is just half a shutout shy of her career total coming into the season. The senior would have already set a new career high for shutouts but was replaced with just under four minutes to go in a lopsided 7-0 win over Jacksonville.
NOT MISSING A BEAT
The revamped Seminole backline has been nothing short of superb through the first four games of the 2005 season. Replacing All-American Katie Beal and starter Marion Cagle was a tall order but the 2005 group is proving it is up to the task. Florida State has recorded three shutouts in the first four games of a season for the first time in program history. No previous team has recorded more than two clean sheets in the first four games and only one FSU team has even accomplished that (1996). The Seminoles are limiting the opponent’s goals by limiting their chances. After allowing 10 shots in each game versus USC and LMU on opening weekend, FSU held JU and Mercer to just four shots a piece this past week. Seminole opponents have a shot percentage of just .036 through four games and they are being out shot by a margin greater than 3:1.
JUST TAKES TIME
Kirsten van de Ven may not have been a household name to college soccer fans but the Dutch National teamer transferred to FSU with a list of accomplishments as impressive as any player. Last season at Quinnipiac, van de Ven scored 12 goals and had 11 assists. She was named Northeast Conference Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year. She was just the second freshman in NEC history to win both awards in the same season. The Heesch, Holland native did not arrive on the FSU campus until three days before the start of the 2005 season after a stint with the Dutch National team. van de Ven may not have started the season the way she would have liked in California after playing games on the international level, flying from Europe and having just two full training sessions with her new team but she showed Tallahassee the type of player she is this past week. The sophomore scored the first two goals of her FSU career versus Jacksonville and Mercer including her first game-winning goal as a Seminole. She is now third on the team in goals scored and points and is riding a two-game goal streak into Orlando for the match versus UCF.
KEEPING IMPRESSIVE COMPANY
The 2005 Seminoles have made huge jumps in the national polls but that isn’t the only place where the Seminoles are stacking up in the rankings. Individually, Sel Kuralay and India Trotter are all over the ACC statistical leader boards. Kuralay is hanging with some of the biggest names in the country. The Australian is tied for first with Heather O’Reilly for goals per game (1.25), leading the ACC in shots per game (5.25), second behind O’Reilly in points per game (3.00) and second in the conference in game-winning goals (2). Trotter, who had three goals in 46 career games coming into 2004, finds herself third in the nation’s top women’s soccer conference for goals per games and in the top four in the ACC for points per game. After scoring only 29 goals a season ago, FSU leads the ACC in shots per game and is second in the conference for goals per game.