Sept. 8, 2004
There in no doubt that throughout the northern part of Florida, soccer fans think there is no better rivalry in the women’s game than Florida State and Florida. Since Patrick Baker came to Florida State the series is 4-3 in favor of FSU and four of the last six games have been decided by one goal and the other two games by just two goals. On top of the natural rivalry between the schools, the games have obviously been close and the teams have met in two of the last four NCAA Tournaments as well. There is some evidence though that since 2000 there has been no better series in all of college soccer than the annual clash between the Seminoles and Gators and that isn’t just regional bias talking. Since 2000, nine different schools have played in the College Cup and of those nine schools only Florida State and Florida play an annual out of conference game. Santa Clara and Portland play each year as do UConn and Notre Dame but those are all forced match-ups due to conference affiliations. Florida State also plays North Carolina annually as members of the ACC making FSU the only team in America to play two College Cup teams from the last four years every season since 2000.
One of the reasons the Florida State/Florida series has become one of the nation’s best is due to Seminole head coach Patrick Baker. Before the Tribe boss took over in 1999, FSU was 0-4 versus the Gators and had been outscored 15-0. In his first season in Tallahassee, Baker’s Seminoles finally scored a goal against UF. Since then, Baker has gone 4-2 against UF including two wins in the NCAA Tournament. Baker has never lost to Florida in Tallahassee and since 2000 has won 67% of the match-ups. Baker has also turned this into a series between ranked teams. When the two squads meet Friday, it will be the first regular season meeting when both schools are ranked in the top 10. Florida State is currently third in the nation ranked ahead of UF. That might be a good omen for the Gators. The lower ranked team in the series has won five of the last six meetings. One other odd trend is that Baker’s four wins versus the Gators have all come by one goal yet UF has never won a one goal game against FSU despite seven series wins. Florida State is still looking for its first ever shutout against UF. The Seminoles have allowed just one goal to the Gators in each of their last three wins.
Senior Jez Ratliff is off to another hot start scoring two goals, both game-winners, in the last two games. The hot start in 2004 is nothing unusual for the Oklahoma native. In the first three games of the season, Ratliff has recorded a goal and an assist (2001), two goals and an assist (2002) and two goals in 2003 and 2004. In just those 12 games Ratliff has scored seven goals and recorded two assists for 16 points. That means 29% of Ratliff’s career points were recorded in just 16% of the 75 games she has played. Even more amazingly 39% of her career goals have come in those 12 matches. With her hot start, Ratliff has continued her climb up the career leader lists as well. She has now jumped fellow wide midfielder Amber Tollefson and moved into fourth place for career points. Her 18 goals have now also moved her all alone into fourth place on that career list as well.
With a game as big as the Florida State/Florida rivalry, you can expect a huge crowd despite the FSU/Miami football game scheduled for just a few hours later. The Seminoles and Gators are used to playing one another in front of huge crowds. In 11 all-time meetings, there has never been an FSU/UF game played in front of less than 1000 fans. In fact, the average crowd when FSU and Florida meet is 2,329. The last seven times the teams have played, over 1280 fans showed up for each game. The biggest sign of how huge this game has always been is when you look at the all-time top crowds for each team. Four of Florida’s top five all-time crowds have come when the Seminoles are in town and four of FSU’s top 10 all-time largest crowds are in games versus the Gators. The largest crowd to ever watch a game at the Seminole Soccer Complex was in 2002 when 1,603 showed up to see FSU down UF 2-1. At the Elite Eight last season 3432 fans watched FSU advance to its first ever College Cup. That crowd wasn’t even the largest FSU played in front of in 2003. The Seminoles played in front of 4,461 fans when they beat Maryland 1-0 and then saw the SAS Soccer Complex filled with 3,687 pro-Carolina fans in a 3-2 loss to the Heels in the ACC Championship. At the College Cup, 8267 fans watched FSU and UConn face off. That was the largest crowd an FSU team has ever played before.
1999 @UF 4745
1995 @UF 4442
2001 @UF 3472
2003 @UF 3432
2000 @UF 1763
2002 @FSU 1603
1997 @UF 1433
2000 @FSU 1282
2003 @UF 1281
1996 @FSU 1123
1998 @FSU 1046
Jez Ratliff’s back-to-back game-winning goals in the last two games almost matched her career total entering into 2004. Coming into the season Ratliff had three career game-winners, one in each of her first three campaigns. Now she has two in one season for the first time in her career. It took her 73 games to notch those three game-winners and just three to almost surpass that total. Ratliff is just the seventh FSU player in team history to record game-winners in back-to-back games but she still has some work to do to set the record. Only one player ever at FSU has recorded a game-winner in four straight games and that was Emma Breland in 2000 (FIU, Oregon State, Oregon and Wake Forest). Cindy Schofield recorded game-winners in three straight games in 2001 (USF, UCF and Duke) and she is the only FSU player ever to record back-to-back game winning goals more than once in her career. Schofield did it three times, twice in 2002 and once in 2001.
GOALS IN CONSECUTIVE GAMES
4 Emma Breland (2000)
3 Cindy Schofield (2001)
2 Seven tied
As mentioned previously, Jez Ratliff has scored game-winning goals in back-to-back games for FSU. The senior midfielder isn’t the only player entering Friday night with a streak in tact. MAC Hermann Trophy candidate Leah Gallegos has a streak of her own underway. The junior forward has an assist in three straight games and with an assist versus Florida she will tie the Florida State record for consecutive matches with an assist. Only two FSU players have ever recorded an assist in four straight games. Amber Tollefson did it in 2003 and Angela Bonnafino did it in 1999. Four other players have recorded three straight games with an assist but none have done it twice in their career. Gallegos has not only started 2004 with three straight games with an assist but she has a three-game assist streak in 2002 as well.
CONSECUTIVE GAMES WITH AN ASSIST
4 Amber Tollefson (2003)
4 Angela Bonaffino
3 Five tied
LET’S GET IT STARTED
What a difference a year makes. At this point last year FSU was 0-3 and heading to 1-4. The Tribe began 2003 against three straight NCAA Tournament teams just like they did this year but in 2004 FSU won all three matches. This is just the second 3-0 start in team history and both came under head coach Patrick Baker. The Tribe also started the season 3-0 in 2000, which was the first year FSU made the NCAA Tournament. The first win in that three-game streak was the first ever win over Florida as well. If the Tribe is able to beat Florida in Tallahassee for the third straight time, the 4-0 start would stand all alone as the all-time best start to a season. The next best start in school history came in 1996 when the Seminoles started out 6-1. While that start was impressive the wins came against West Florida, Appalachian State, South Alabama, Jacksonville, North Florida and East Carolina. Not taking anything away from that squad but a win Friday would give FSU four straight wins over NCAA Tournament teams from 2003.
Thanks to Hurricane Frances, Florida State was forced to do a little schedule shuffling. The team’s games against Miami and FAU were postponed. When FSU scheduled a pick-up game with Georgia this past Friday, it meant the game with FAU wouldn’t be made up. The Tribe will still play the conference game against the Canes. With the addition of Georgia after opening up against Arizona State and USC, Florida will be the fourth straight 2003 NCAA Tournament team FSU has faced to open up the 2004 season. Not only did all four teams make the tournament, that group of FSU opponents posted a 5-4 record in last year’s NCAA’s with every team winning its opening round game except for USC.
When FSU kicks off with Florida Friday night it will mark the first of a series of games versus Florida schools coming up for FSU. The Tribe will play three straight games against in-state opponents and five of the next seven against Florida schools. The Tribe will face Florida, Stetson, Jacksonville, FIU and USF over the next three weeks. 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 24-2-0 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 4-2 since then. The Seminoles have won 17 of their last 18 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 28 of the next 30 Florida team’s his Seminoles have faced. Twice in the last five years Baker has gone undefeated versus Florida schools. 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.
While FSU has played 26 games over the last four years versus Florida schools, Stetson has not been one of those matches. The Hatters and Seminoles played three times from 1997-1999 but since then the teams have not met. The Tribe is 3-0 against Stetson and has outscored the Hatters 11-0 in those games. In his only meeting with Stetson, Baker is 1-0 as his squad recorded a 4-0 win in 1999, Baker’s first year on the job.