Oct. 26, 2004
Florida State will honor its six seniors Thursday night before the game against the Golden Knights and it is a group deserving of that honor. Listed below are some of this senior class’ accomplishments:
North Carolina 87
Wake Forest 42
NC State 34
Florida State has won four straight against UCF after losing the first match in the series in 1998…FSU has shut out UCF the last two times the teams played in Orlando but has yet to shutout UCF in Tallahassee…all three FSU keepers have played against UCF and they have combined to allow just one goal in three games…despite scoring 11 goals versus the Golden Knights in the last three years, no current Seminole has more than one goal versus UCF…FSU has scored three or more goals versus the Golden Knights in three of the last four meetings. The Tribe has scored three or more goals just three times all season…each time FSU and UCF have played in Tallahassee, the score has been 3-1…this is the first time FSU has closed the regular season with UCF but the fourth time in the last five seasons the Tribe’s final game has been against a Florida school.
When FSU kicks off with UCF Thursday night, it will mark the final regular season game versus a Florida school. The Tribe played five games versus Florida schools and posted a 4-1-0 record in those matches. Winning inside the state of Florida is a priority to head coach Patrick Baker and if you doubt that just look at the record. The Seminoles are 29-3-0 versus Florida schools since 2000. In four years, FSU has never lost to a Florida school with the exception of the Gators and FSU leads that series 4-3 since then. The Seminoles have won 22 of their last 24 matches against Sunshine state opponents. Baker knew when he came to FSU that on his road to being the best in the nation he had to first become the best in the state and his teams have won the state title three of the last four seasons. The plan didn’t get off to a great start as the coach’s first two losses at FSU came to Florida and Miami by a combined score of 8-1, since then Baker has defeated 33 of the next 36 Florida teams his Seminoles have faced. The best record FSU ever posted against Florida schools was 8-0 in 2000. In 2002 the Tribe went 5-0 but an argument can be made that 2003 was the best season ever as far as in-state competition goes. Although FSU wasn’t undefeated (6-1), they averaged over 3.5 goals per game and the win in Gainesville over Florida came in the Elite Eight sending FSU to the College Cup.
The win over Miami set a new FSU record for ACC wins in a season at five but what the victory also means is that FSU will finish at .500 or above for the fourth straight year and the Tribe will finish in the top four of the ACC for the fourth straight year as well no matter what happens the rest of the way. That translates into an exemption from playing a first round game on a campus site and in turn six days of rest after UCF and before the ACC Tournament. The five wins in one year is amazing when you consider FSU had five wins in its first six years of ACC play. The Tribe’s 5-3-1 record also means with a North Carolina win over Duke, the Tribe would finish third in the ACC. That would make FSU and North Carolina the only two ACC teams to finish fourth or higher in each of the last four regular seasons. Since ACC soccer expanded to seven teams in 1994, only two teams outside of North Carolina and now Florida State have ever finished in the top four of the ACC for four straight years.
FOUR YEARS IN THE TOP FOUR (Excluding UNC)
Florida State 2001-2004
Coming into the 2004 season, head coach Patrick Baker talked about having a special regular season, which is something his Seminoles have never accomplished despite all the postseason success. The Tribe has responded. With its win over Miami, the Seminoles tied the single season school record for wins in a year and broke the record for ACC wins in a season with their fifth. This is the fourth time FSU has reached the 12-win mark in the regular season and the Tribe will have one last chance versus UCF to set a new record. No matter how FSU does in its final match, the team is already guaranteed of at least tying the school record for fewest regular season losses as well. The single season record for fewest losses is five and the Seminoles can set a new record by winning Friday night’s game. At 12-4-1, FSU currently has a winning percentage of .735. The school record for team winning percentage is .673 and that mark was set by last year’s squad. The previous best for an FSU team’s winning percentage through 17 games was .676 and set by the 1996 squad.
After playing three road games in a six-day span last week, the Tribe is glad to be back home. The Seminoles are 10-3-0 at home this year and they will have one more opportunity to add to their record for home field wins. This year’s squad has already established a single season record with 10 wins breaking the mark set by the 2000 team that went 9-2-0. That season FSU broke the previous record of six with a win over Wake Forest. This year they tied the record versus Wake and bested it with a win over Virginia Tech.
Jez Ratliff is having a typical Jez Ratliff season once again in 2004. Just the second player ever at FSU to record double digit points for four straight years, Jez is the model of consistency. Her six goals match a career high and she finished the 2004 conference campaign just one point away from a new career high for points in ACC play. With her four years of playing at a consistently high level, Jez is now not only getting into rarified air for career records, she has tied a big time record along the way. With Ratliff’s game-winning goal against NC State, the senior tied Amber Tollefson for career game-winners in conference play. Her play this season and throughout her career has moved her into the top five on FSU’s career lists for goals (5), points (5), assists (4), shots on goal (4), game-winning goals (3) and game-winning assists (4). She and Maren Vik Edvardsen are the only two players in FSU soccer history to rank in the top five of each of those categories.
Admittedly it isn’t as catchy as the “Cali Connection” that Julia Schnugg and Leah Gallegos formed up top last season but Schnugg and Jez Ratliff have something going this season when it comes to offensive production. They don’t play next to each other, at least not most of the time, but Schnugg and Ratliff are carrying the offensive load with Gallegos sidelined. Ratliff and Schnugg have scored 12 of the team’s 25 goals (48%), they have five of the team’s 12 game-winning goals (42%), they combined for 29 of the squads 80 points (36%) and they even have five assists (17%).
Last year FSU bounced back from a 1-4 start by going 8-1-1 in its next 10 games. This year the Tribe’s situation was not nearly as dire but after a loss to Duke the team has responded and turned its conference season around. It the last seven games FSU posted a 5-1-1 record. That seven game stretch included five games versus ACC teams and three road contests in a 15-day stretch. The Seminoles jumped from 1-2 in the ACC to 5-3-1 thanks to their success. They also recorded a six game unbeaten streak and a five game unbeaten streak in ACC play, which was a new school record.
What else is new? Another game, another one goal win. The Tribe has played 17 games so far in 2004 and 12 have been on-goal affairs and don’t forget that one of those 17 games was a tie versus Maryland. Of FSU’s 12 wins, 10 have been in one-goal games. Playing close games is nothing new for FSU under Patrick Baker. Before his arrival FSU played 25 one-goal games and posted an overall record of 31-44-5. Since Baker took over, the Seminoles have played in 53 one-goal games and posted an overall record of 80-45-9. Under Baker, the Tribe has learned how to win the close games. Before Baker’s arrival, the Seminoles were 11-14 in one goal games for a .440 winning percentage. After Baker took over the program that number jumped to 41-22-0 for a winning percentage of .651. This is the fourth time in FSU history the Tribe has played double digit one-goal games. Every year in which Florida State has played in 10 or more one-goal games, that Seminole team has advanced to at least the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament (2000, 2002, 2003) because when tournament time comes, you better know how to win close games.
Kelly Rowland admires her fellow center back Katie Beal for good reason. Beal has had a stellar career at FSU. She has garnered All-American honors and been named to the ACC All-Tournament team but even she knows her protégé is going to pass her when it comes to offensive records. Beal is the most prolific scorer in Florida State history when it comes to defenders but in less than two seasons, Rowland has almost caught her. Beal and Rowland are tied for second behind all-time great Kristin Boyce when it comes to goals and Beal is still in first place for career points by a defender but watch out for K-Row. Rowland is currently tied for second all-time in career points in just 42 games and she is only two points and two assists away from catching Beal in both of those categories and three goals away from catching Boyce. Her eight career goals and 11 career assists trail only striker Julia Schnugg who has 12 goals and 13 assists in her career among sophomores. In fact, only Leah Gallegos and Schnugg have more goals and points than Rowland out side of the 2004 senior class.
Florida State goalkeeper Joy McKenzie has made it to the top of the soccer world in the Seminole net and she keeps breaking records every time she steps out. Despite working hard for four years, Joy is setting records despite only starting for the past two seasons. Last season she became the school’s career shutout leader in ACC games and in ACC wins. She has added to both of those totals this year but now she is threatening all the Tribe’s career records. With McKenzie’s shutout win over Miami, the keeper tied the FSU career record for wins (26) and moved one shutout away from taking over the career record in that category as well. She will go after the record again Friday night versus a UCF team that FSU has held without a goal in two of the last three meetings.