Nov. 10, 2000
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
The 14th-ranked Seminole soccer team (13-7-2) and No. 11 Florida Gators (16-7) renew one of the nation’s best intra-state rivalries when the two schools meet for the first time ever in the NCAA soccer tournament Sunday, November 12 at 2:00 p.m. in Gainesville. Florida State, previously winless against the Gators, recorded their first-ever win over Florida in August when they defeated the Gators 3-2 in both teams season opener in Tallahassee.
The Seminoles advanced to the second round of the 2000 NCAA Soccer Championships when they defeated the Jacksonville Dolphins 4-1 Wednesday. It was FSU’s second victory over JU this season and Florida State will now face a team they’ve already played for the fourth time this season. The Gators received a first round bye and will open the 2000 championships when the Seminoles head to Percy Beard Stadium Sunday.
“I don’t think we had our best performance of the season in the win over Jacksonville but we found a way to win,” said head coach Patrick Baker. “We are going to have to find a way Sunday against a very good Florida team. They are not the team we faced back in August but I don’t think we are the same team we were back then either. They had two very special players that weren’t involved in that game and they are very talented.”
Florida State entered their first meeting with UF with a five-game losing streak to the Gators. Florida held a 20-1 goal advantage in those five meetings and it wasn’t until 1999 that the Seminoles even recorded their first-ever goal against the Gators. Since that first-ever win over a Top-10 team, the Seminoles have gone on to record victories over North Carolina, Texas A&M and Wake Forest.
“It is going to be great to face Florida in the NCAA Tournament because of how big the rivalry is between the two schools,” said Ashlee Fontes. “They will be ready to come after us since we were able to beat them at the beginning of the season. They are a totally different team now that they are at full strength.”
The Gators enter the match with a 13-1 record over their last 14 matches and recently won their fifth consecutive Southeastern Conference title. The Gators are just two seasons removed from winning the national championship and will attempt to avoid being knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the second round for the second consecutive year.
“They are a very good team,” said Baker. “Florida has won a lot of games down the stretch this season and they are playing with a huge amount of confidence and I’m sure they feel like they can beat anybody. We have to go to their home and it will be a big challenge for us.”
The Seminoles and Gators enter the match with an equal amount of losses and UF is ranked ahead of the Seminoles in three out of four national polls. The teams are both 3-2 versus common opponents and Florida enters the match with a 3-7 record versus Top-25 teams while the Seminoles have a record of 3-4 versus the NSCAA Top-25.
“We feel like we can win the game and I’m sure Florida feels like they can win the game also,” said Baker. “As a coach, you aren’t doing your job if you don’t prepare your players to win and that’s what we are doing. We are preparing to beat Florida. It doesn’t matter how many people are there, when the whistle blows we have to block the crowd out and realize it’s what we do on the field that will determine the outcome.”
The winner of Sunday’s match will advance to the Sweet 16 and face the winner of the Duke/Clemson match taking place in Clemson, SC at 7:00 p.m. Saturday. The match will be played at a site and on a date to be determined after this weekend’s action.