December 5, 2003 - by
College Cup Press Conference Quotes

Dec. 5, 2003

Patrick Baker

“We are very excited to be here. It is our first time and we are just trying to find the right balance between really enjoying ourselves and keeping the right focus. I really think we as a staff and as a team have done that up to this point. We have been here (SAS Soccer Complex) for the ACC Championships and at the end of the final (North Carolina head coach) Anson (Dorrance) said ‘let’s meet back here in a couple of weeks’. I knew he was going to make it here but I didn’t know we would.”

“We are so excited and I think we have played exceptional soccer. We knew the NCAA committee would give us a path and they thought we were deserving of a national seed and we appreciated that. I really compliment our team because they have shown great character. They went on the road and beat a very good West Virginia team who was 19-1 in its last 20 games at home. We than had to turn around and play our arch-rival on the Florida State/Florida football weekend when they had about 3,000 fans and we had about 700. They were 17-0-2 in their last 19 games at home but we went on the road and accomplished those two things. I think we have done a good job to be here this weekend.”

“We have had a different mentality since the Virginia game. Our back four really stepped up. Our starting keeper, Joy McKenzie, didn’t play that night but since that point in time has been our mainstay in goal and responded very well.”

“One of the biggest things is that we not only got back to .500, we got well above .500 by playing the toughest women’s soccer conference in the nation, which is no easy task. Four of those conference games were on the road in very difficult venues. As I reflect back on the season, that is what made me so proud.”

“To start where we did and finish second in the ACC is amazing. I told our ladies at the ACC Championships that we deserved to be the No. 2 seed but let’s just make sure the best two teams in our conference are playing Sunday in that championship game and to their credit they were.”

“Nine years ago we hardly had a program and now people are picking us to be a top 10 team at the end of the season. Sometimes you just pinch yourself. When they made the commitment to start a program at Florida State my predecessor didn’t have the luxuries I have now like the complex, which is arguably the most beautiful in the country. We draw close to 1,000 people a game and it is just a great atmosphere.”

“Annually seven of our eight teams in the ACC get into the NCAA Tournament. When you start conference play you are actually starting NCAA play. Since we played Maryland in late September, we have played primarily NCAA Tournament teams up until today.”

“I have described this team as being borderline silly and I think that helped us after a 1-4 start. I don’t think anyone of us wanted a slow start. We weren’t playing poorly but based on the competition we could have been 3-0 or 0-3 and we knew that coming in. Penn State was coming off a final four. Southern Cal is a wonderful team and Florida was on a mission after going to the College Cup and then missing the tournament the next year. We fully knew it was going to be difficult and that is why we recruit these players. Not only do we play in the best conference in the country we are going to play the best teams out of conference. Why should we play x, y and z when we can play better teams from the power conferences?”

“This is such a great group. Last week in Gainesville we were broken up into five tables and I looked around and three of the five tables were rolling on the floor with laughter. I remember telling my assistants that we are like five hours away from a huge game. They know when to have fun. We have a lot of personalities on this team. They also know when to turn it on and when it is time to get serious and get after it they do.”

“This has been fun. I have never had a more enjoyable time coaching a team. I thought 2000 was pretty special because we beat Carolina and we beat Florida twice. This year by far surpasses any year I have had in coaching. It has been a true joy.”

“I have always said that all players have strengths and weaknesses and I think that goes for coaches too. When I began at North Carolina-Wesleyan, it wasn’t that good of a program in Division III. We turned it around. Then we went to the streets of Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania. They were a doormat and we made them wonderfully competitive. We won an ECAC Championship. I wanted more. I couldn’t win a national championship at Penn. The opportunity arose here at Florida State and you have a four or five year plan. I think we are probably a little ahead of schedule.”

“I share with young ladies that if you don’t have aspirations of beating North Carolina or don’t have aspirations of winning a national championship Florida State is not for you. That is what we are striving to do. That is what we are about.”

“When you lose to North Carolina just by a goal twice in a weeks time, that’s when I wanted our team to realize they could get to this point. When you look at who North Carolina is playing and they are smacking everybody. For Anson (Dorrance) to say that we were probably the best team they have played all year. That was a remarkable statement for our team to hear.”

Leah Gallegos

“Once we won in the Sweet 16 it was like let’s just go out and win the next game. Then we did and that was amazing. Then we beat Florida and once again we are just trying to keep going in the same direction.”

“All of our games have been competitive and we have played against excellent teams all year. That has made us better.”

Katie Beal

“Coming in as a freshmen you really don’t know what to expect. That year we made it to the Sweet 16 and that was a great feeling. Last year, we went to the ACC Championship final but we lost in the second round. This year it has been a goal to get here and we knew we were capable of that. Our goal my first to years was to get back to the sweet 16 but this year our goal was to be one of the final four. Not be satisfied with just getting back to the Sweet 16. We are a better team across the board and our expectations are higher as well.”

“Dealing with weather is a mentality. We have to accept that it is going to be cold and that’s not going to change. Being in Florida has worked to our advantage in the past but we will be fine. Weather will be a factor but just one of many.”

“When we started off 1-4, we weren’t playing bad teams. Both Penn State and Florida were in this year’s Elite Eight. We weren’t playing badly either. We were struggling a little bit in getting comfortable. Playing in a conference where seven of the eight teams made the tournament only helped us.”

Jez Ratliff

“I think starting 1-4 shook our confidence a little at the beginning. Once we turned it around and started playing well it kind of all came out, the team we could be. When we started to get some big wins especially in ACC play and then to advance through the ACC Tournament and competed with the number one team in the nation. Even though we lost to UNC we felt like we were that close. Maybe we deserve to be there. That gave us a lot of confidence.”

“We would be more comfortable playing in 80 degree weather but this is the College Cup. Of course we are going to be up for it no matter what the weather.”

“Our schedule helped us gain confidence. Playing Auburn, West Virginia, Florida in the tournament has given us confidence. We played North Carolina twice in nine days and we played with them. There is nothing else to be scared of.”

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