Oct. 21, 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 two chances to set a new record with games versus Carolina and UCF remaining. No matter how FSU does in its final two matches, 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 just one of their two final matches. At 12-3-1, FSU currently has a winning percentage of .767. 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 16 games was .719 and set by the 1996 squad.
You can’t help but notice a few coincidences between this year’s FSU/UNC game and last year’s FSU/UNC game. Despite the location, the game with the Tar Heels was FSU’s last conference game of the year both seasons. Another similarity is that last year FSU entered the game with a school-record four-game unbeaten streak in ACC play before UNC snapped it with a 1-0 win. With FSU’s victory over Miami, the Tribe set a new record with a five game ACC unbeaten streak leading into another showdown with the Heels. Busting up FSU streaks is nothing new for the Tar Heels as they have ended 15 of FSU’s various record streaks over the years.
The win over Miami set a new FSU record for ACC wins in a season at five, which was mentioned earlier 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 half 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 Tribe’s 5-2-1 record puts FSU in the running to set or tie two other records as well. If the Seminoles are fortunate enough to upset No. 1 North Carolina, they will set a new school record for single season ACC winning percentage and tie the record for fewest ACC losses in a season. The Tribe’s ACC winning percentage is currently .688 and the record is .642 set by last year’s team who went 4-2-1 in ACC play. The five wins in one year is amazing when you consider FSU had five wins in its first six years of ACC play.
When top ranked North Carolina visits the Seminole Soccer Complex Friday night, it will mark the first time is school history that the Tar Heels have played FSU in Tallahassee on a Friday night. The Tar Heels have traveled to Tallahassee on four previous occasions but never on a Friday night. They played here twice on Tuesdays, once on a Thursday and once on a Sunday. The only time FSU has ever beaten UNC was on a Tuesday night in 2000 at the Seminole Soccer Complex. This year the Tar Heels come into Tallahassee on a 42-game unbeaten streak and are 41-0-1 during that run including a National Championship win. The Tar Heels were on a similar streak when they came to Tallahassee in 2000 as they had won 28 of 29 games before being upset by the Tribe. The Heels and Tribe played two, one-goal games last season but they have also shut out FSU 10 times in 16 all-time meetings. This year, UNC has registered just one shutout in its seven ACC contests. Every ACC team Carolina has played with the exception of Wake Forest has scored on the Heels. If you are looking for a couple of other coincidences that may point to a possible FSU upset, here they are. The last time FSU beat North Carolina, the Heels were also out of the top spot in the NSCAA national poll, which is a rare occurrence. In 2000 when FSU beat UNC the Heels were ranked third in the poll. This year they are ranked second. In the last four years, UNC has been ranked first in 31 of the last 45 polls so catching the Heels when they aren’t ranked first is rare. There is also one other quirk that might hold no significance but is a quirk similar to the last time the Tribe pulled the upset. In 2000, the Tribe played North Carolina surrounded by games versus Miami, Maryland and NC State. The same holds true this year as the Seminoles just finished a three-game road trip versus that same group of opponents. Considering that the last time FSU beat UNC head coach Patrick Baker said it takes the stars lining up right to beat the Heels, this may be a good sign.
Beating UNC in an ACC game is tough to do. Since 1987, North Carolina has lost just five conference games and three of those losses came in one season so UNC has gone undefeated in the ACC 14 times in 17 seasons. Overall, since becoming an NCAA sport, North Carolina has lost just 11 regular season games in 21 years. To put that in perspective, FSU lost 11 in three of its first four years of existence. While FSU can take pride in being one of the teams to hand UNC a regular season loss only one team in the history of Carolina soccer has ever beat the Heels twice in a regular season game and that is the University of Connecticut who did it in 1983 and 1990. Carolina still holds a 15-2 edge in that all-time series. There are only two other teams with multiple wins versus the Heels. Notre Dame has beaten UNC twice but one win came in the NCAA Tournament and Santa Clara leads all teams with three victories and two came in NCAA Tournament play.
Heading into last year’s ACC Championship final, the Seminoles had scored seven goals in 15 games all-time against the Tar Heels. So when the Tribe scored two goals in one game that was pretty out of the ordinary and when the same person scored both of those goals it was definitely a little weird. The fact that a defender scored both of those FSU goals is downright loopy. In last year’s ACC championship final, Kelly Rowland scored both FSU goals as the Seminoles led the Heels 1-0 and 2-1. She is the only current Seminole who has ever scored versus the Heels and Rowland is the only Seminole ever to score two career goals against UNC. Rowland’s two goals and four points were both career highs set in that championship match.
The Seminoles and Tar Heels have become pretty familiar over the last four seasons. When the two teams take the field Friday evening, it will be the sixth meeting between the schools since 2001. Maryland is the only team FSU has played more than the Heels since 2001 as the teams have met seven times. Part of the reason FSU and UNC have played so many times is that the squads have played for two of the last three ACC Tournament titles. Carolina has faced Wake Forest seven times since 2001 and Florida Sate, Duke and NC State each on six occasions. While that familiarity has not bred contempt it has created a lot of respect between the schools especially after FSU played Carolina to the closest ACC championship final in 15 years last season. In fact, the Tribe lost both games in 2003 by just one goal to the Heels. A team has played Carolina twice in a season 95 times in school history and only seven times has one of those teams played UNC to within a goal in both games.
There seems to be a lot of doubt surrounding the 2004 Seminoles as a national power and that couldn’t be clearer than when you look at the team’s No. 19 ranking from Soccer America. That perception probably stems from the fact that this year’s team hasn’t been blowing out opponents out at the rate they did in 2004. Despite a lack of lopsided scores, the 2004 Seminoles have already tied the record for regular season wins and set a new school record for ACC victories. On top of that, there is more evidence to support that the Tribe is deserving of a top 10 ranking. The Seminoles are one of just 12 teams who have already reached the 12-win mark in 2004 and of those 12 teams, only No. 1 North Carolina has more wins than FSU. Of the 12 teams with 12 wins in 2004, five are ACC squads. Only one other conference (BIG EAST) can boast more than one 12-win team and they have just two. Among those 12 teams, only UNC has played a schedule tougher than Florida State and fared better playing that schedule than Florida State. Overall, Florida State’s schedule is rated as the seventh-toughest in the nation this year according to SoccerRatings.com. That schedule strength is sure to increase after Friday evening’s game with the Heels. North Carolina will be the ninth FSU opponent in 17 games that is either currently ranked or who has been ranked at some point in 2004.
After playing three road games in a six-day span last week, the Tribe is glad to be back home. The Seminoles are 10-2-0 at home this year and they will have two opportunities 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 and then bested the record by two with a win over North Carolina. This year the Seminoles will have the same opportunity as they tied the record versus Wake, bested with a win over Virginia Tech and can now beat the previous record by two with another remarkable victory over North Carolina.
Julia Schnugg had a great freshman year. Playing beside consensus All-American Leah Gallegos, the Californian recorded six goals and a freshman record 10 assists. What she is doing this year is a different level though. Schnugg has been asked to do a lot more because Gallegos has been out with an injury. The converted forward is now the focal point of the FSU offense up top and she has stepped up in the biggest situations. She has already tied her mark for goals in a season with six this year and she has established a new personal best for game-winning goals with three. Last season though she struggled in conference play. Schnugg scored just one goal and recorded only one assist in seven ACC starts. How things have changed. This year Schnugg leads the team in goals, assists, points, game-winning goals, shots and shots on goal in ACC play. She recorded back-to-back goals on FSU’s three-game ACC road trip where the Tribe posted a 2-0-1 record and she has only gone consecutive ACC games without a point once this year.
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 is 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%).
Florida State completed its three-game ACC road swing with an impeccable 2-0-1 record. Considering the Tribe was 1-7-1 in three previous three-game ACC road trips, this one was a rousing success…FSU’s win at NC State was just the second regular season win in the state of North Carolina in program history. That raises FSU’s mark to 2-15-2 all-time in the state in regular season ACC games…FSU’s 1-0 win over Miami was the first shutout in FSU history over the Canes…this year’s FSU team reached 10 wins faster than any in school history…the Tribe started its 12th different line-up in 16 games at Miami Tuesday night.
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 six games FSU posted a 5-0-1 record. That six 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 5-2-1 thanks to their success the past 15 days. The six game unbeaten streak is not a record but the five game unbeaten streak in ACC play is and the Seminoles are now assured of finishing in the upper half of the ACC for the fourth straight season.
What else is new? Another game, another one goal win. The Tribe has played 16 games so far in 2004 and 12 have been on-goal affairs and don’t forget that one of those 16 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 80-44-9. 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. McKenzie had a coming out party versus UNC last season in a 1-0 loss so it would be extra special for her if she were able to add to any of those records versus the Tar Heels Friday night.