Aug. 29, 2001
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –
After an unprecedented 2000 season, the Seminole players and coaching staff are very excited about the prospects for the 2001 campaign. Coach Patrick Baker enters 2001 hoping his squad will be a little more mature after so many young players gained invaluable experience in 2000.
“The fact we were in some big games last year for the first time and were successful in a number of them, hopefully will continue in the 2001 season,” said Baker. “We’ve been able to garner another great recruiting class and we hope those players, like the class before them, will be able to step in right away and help us. I ‘m not doing my job as a coach from a recruiting standpoint if I don ‘t bring in players that can help us.”
Baker also feels that the development of the upperclassmen, which is something that is sometimes overlooked, could be a key factor in 2001.
“A lot of these young ladies have worked extremely hard since we’ve come to Florida State and even in the past year to better themselves on and off of the field,” said Baker.
Baker ‘s 2001 class is even more highly rated than his stellar class of 2000,which was ranked as the 13th-best class in the country. For the first time since he has been at FSU, Baker was able to fill specific needs rather than just trying to raise the overall talent level of the team. Replacing All-Southeast Region goalkeeper Sarah Crawford, who started every minute of every game for the Seminoles in 2000,was an obvious priority for Florida State. FSU picked up three very talented freshmen of which Kerry York is the person most of the attention is focused on. The Gatorade Player of the Year from Maryland, York comes into preseason as the favorite for the job but she will have competition from fellow freshmen Ali Mims and Joy McKenzie.
Another key loss for the Seminoles was central midfielder Rachael Watkin. Watkin, who started more games than any player in Seminole history, logged tremendous minutes for Florida State in 2000 and Baker knew he needed a play making central midfielder who could change the complexion of a game with her skill to replace the All- Southeast Region second-teamer. He got that player in Oklahoma ‘s Gatorade Player of the Year Camie Bybee. Bybee led the state of Oklahoma in goals the last two seasons and tied the state record with 38 goals as a senior.
Fellow freshmen Jez Ratliff and Marion Cagle bring a combination of talent and speed that the Seminoles have never had in the past. Ratliff trailed only fellow FSU recruit Camie Bybee in goals scored in the state of Oklahoma with 24 her senior season and she was runner-up to Bybee for Gatorade Player of the Year honors. A hometown player, Cagle is familiar to area soccer fans after winning a state title as a freshman at Maclay and then starring for the No.1 team in Class 4A at Leon.
“We needed some pace if we wanted to compete in our conference and nationally,” said Baker. “We needed to make sure we brought in athletes. The game is starting to turn away from those who can play soccer to those who can play the part. Marion Cagle and Jez Ratliff are both blessed with a lot of speed and are about as good as you can get from a standpoint of pace. When they get the ball and get moving, both players are electrifying.”
Rounding out this group is national team program player Katie Beal. Beal, a 2001 Parade All-American will be a fantastic person on and off the field and a great leader according to Baker. She will be asked to come in and re-solidify a Seminole defense, which is coming off its best season ever.
2001 Recruiting Class Rankings
1. Virginia 2. North Carolina 3. Texas 4. Santa Clara 5. Tennessee 6. Portland 7. UCLA 8. FLORIDA STATE 9. Stanford 10. Washington
The Seminoles 2001 schedule includes eight opponents who were nationally ranked in 2000,four opponents who were regionally ranked in 2000 and four teams that were in the Elite Eight of which two advanced to the Final Four at the 2000 NCAA Women ‘s College Cup. The schedule features two-time defending national champion North Carolina and final four participant Portland as well as top-10 teams Santa Clara and Clemson.
“We have always believed that if you want to be the best you have to play the best and this year ‘s schedule is proof of that,” said Baker. “Five of our ranked opponents are in the ACC, but then we went out and scheduled No.4 Portland, No. 9 Santa Clara and No.21 Florida. We are doing everything we can to play the best teams in the nation.”
Florida State opens the season by hosting the second annual Seminole Soccer Tournament, which runs from Aug.31 to Sep.2, where they will face two of the mid-Atlantic region ‘s top teams. FSU opens the tournament with George Mason, ranked No.7 in the mid-Atlantic region at the end of 2000 and then faces Loyola (MD) who finished the 2000 season ranked eighth in the same region as GMU. The Seminoles then get two early road tests when they travel to the Wake Forest/Nike Invitational to face NCAA quarterfinalist Santa Clara and NCAA semifinalist Portland. The Broncos finished the 2000 season ranked No.9 and Portland ended the year No.4 after a trip to the final four.
“Anytime you play in the ACC you are going to play a tough schedule, but outside of the conference you have to look at that second weekend when we take on Portland and Santa Clara,” said Baker. “The Portland staff did a great job getting their team into the Final Four and Santa Clara lost in sudden victory overtime to Notre Dame in the Elite Eight despite dictating most of the play. We could easily of been playing three of the final four teams instead of just two (Portland and North Carolina).”
The Seminoles will host four of their next six opponents at the Seminole Soccer Complex during the month of September. Florida State hosts in-state rival Miami before traveling to Clemson to take on the Tigers who finished the season ranked No.5 in the country and knocked the Seminoles out of the NCAA tournament in the round of 16 last season. FSU returns home for matches against Kansas Sep.21 and a conference game against NC State Sep.23.The Wolfpack finished the 2001 season ranked No.9 in the Southeast region according to SoccerBuzz.
Florida State next travels to Gainesville Sep.28 to take on the Florida Gators who finished 2000 ranked No.21.After going winless against UF in five tries, Florida State opened its 2000 campaign by upsetting 6th-ranked Florida 3-2 in overtime. The Seminoles then traveled to Gainesville for a second-round NCAA Tournament match that saw FSU eliminate the Gators from the NCAA ‘s less than two years after UF won a national championship. The Seminoles will finish the month with a home game against the University of Louisville Sep.30 at 1:00pm.
October could be a make or break month for FSU as it plays seven of its eight games away from home including three key conference battles. The Seminoles travel to South Florida Oct. 2 and then to Central Florida Oct. 5. Two days later the Seminoles play their only home game of the month against conference foe Duke who finished the 2000 season ranked No.17 in the nation. The week doesn’t get any easier as the team travels to Chapel Hill to take on the 17-time national champion North Carolina whom FSU defeated 3-2 at home last year in the biggest victory in the short history of the program.
Florida State then travels to Miami to play Florida International Oct. 16 and back to North Carolina to play another ranked opponent, No. 23 Wake Forest. The Seminoles return to Florida to take on the Jacksonville Dolphins in Jacksonville Oct.24.FSU posted a 7-0 record against Florida schools last season and defeated the Dolphins in the first round of the 2000 NCAA Tournament 4-1.Florida State finishes a tough October stretch when they travel to Charlottesville to face the 13th-ranked Virginia Cavaliers in a key ACC battle.
“Seven of our eight opponents who were ranked last season and all of our in-state rivals, except for Miami, are road games in 2001 which is quite a change from the 2000 schedule,” said Baker. “Now we have to go on the road to some very tough venues like Clemson, North Carolina and Florida or even to neutral site settings in Wake Forest against Santa Clara and Portland.
We really did a great job down the stretch last season in winning at Miami, at Florida in the NCAA Tournament and experiencing the Sweet 16 at Clemson. We really just got a taste of what that is about and how to be successful on the road in big games.”
The Seminoles wrap-up the regular season with a Nov. match against the University of Maryland in Tallahassee. FSU then heads to the ACC Tournament Nov.8 in Winston-Salem, NC where they advanced to the second round for the first time in school history last season.
Cindy Schofield and Maren Vik Edvardsen both had phenomenal seasons for Florida State in 2000 and will be counted on to contribute immediately in 2001.Schofield tied the single season assist record with seven in 2000 and she also scored five goals to rank second in points for FSU. The nation ‘s second most prolific high school goal scorer, Schofield had a breakout season in 2000 displaying the level of play that allowed her to score 238 career goals in high school. Vik Edvardsen is already the most prolific offensive player in the history of Florida State soccer. She is the school ‘s all-time leader in points (53), goals (22) and game-winning goals (6) and she should end her career second on the all-time shots list, third on the all-time assists list and second in game-winning assists for her career.
Sophomore Janet Burke should also make an impact after a somewhat disappointing season. After garnering Gatorade Player of the Years honors in Georgia as a high school senior, Burke recorded three assists and appeared in 23 matches as a freshman. Incoming freshman Jez Ratliff will also be expected to play a key role from a forward position for FSU in 2001.
“We probably have the most depth at the forward position and that isn’t usually the case with many teams,” said Baker. “We have Cindy Schofield who had a breakout sophomore season, our all-time leading scorer in Maren Vik Edvardsen, Janet Burke who had an unbelievable summer and is back to the form she displayed when we recruited her, and then you have Jez Ratliff who can come in and play up top or wide in the midfield. We have a strong group of four players who we can rotate in and who can do some things for us.”
The Seminoles enter the season in very good shape in the wide midfield. Sophomores Amber Tollefson and Summer Corum played a great deal as freshmen in 2001 as they combined to start 42 of 48 games. The two freshmen recorded seven goals and seven assists and were among FSU ‘s best newcomers in 2000. Junior Katie Talley appears poised for a breakthrough season after suffering through two injury-plagued years and incoming freshman Ratliff can also play wide in the midfield.
“I am pretty happy with our wide midfield,” said Baker. “Amber and Summer logged tremendous minutes for us as freshmen in key positions. Summer has the ability to get around the corner and provide service or score goals. Amber is very crafty and nifty on the ball and has such a great skill level that she is able to do a lot of things and make people miss in tight spaces. Then you add Katie who is finally healthy and fit. Jez can also play wide in that mixture so this is another area where we are going to be at least two-deep on each side and that is very nice for us.”
Baker feels the central midfield is probably his biggest concern in 2001 with the loss of senior Rachael Watkin. Marte Vik Edvardsen returns for her senior year and if she continues to play like she did in the spring and summer, Baker believes she will have a wonderful senior season. Oklahoma ‘s Gatorade Player of the Year Camie Bybee will have a period of adjustment, being a freshman that is asked to step in and help immediately, but she may be one of the most talented players ever recruited to FSU. Jenny Garcia is coming on and started for FSU during the spring season. She did a great job and will challenge for a starting spot in the preseason. Meredith Jones might also be someone who sees some minutes as a defensive holding midfielder.
Kristin Boyce returns after a spectacular freshman season during which she started 18 games for FSU and was able to score two goals and assist on a third. She was solid in the back and scored the biggest goal in FSU history, a double-overtime, game-winner against North Carolina.
“Kristin Boyce, like Summer and Amber, just had a wonderful freshman season,” said Baker. “For Boyce to come in a play and start and be a key reason why we were successful is huge. To know that the left side of our defense is going to be talented for years to come due to Boyce ‘s play is very important for us.”
Centrally, Baker hopes that Katie Beal, one of FSU ‘s top recruits, will help to re-solidify a defense that set the record for fewest goals allowed (31) and recorded the second most shutouts in team history (6). Jones will be counted on defensively early on after starting every game in the back in 2000.Ashlee Fontes, who also started every game in the Seminoles defense last season, might be used as FSU ‘s outside right back this season.
Christy Peacock, one of three senior captains, is just as capable as anybody of stepping into one of the outside defender spots and starting for FSU in 2001 and senior co-captain Heather Dyche can play centrally in the defense. Dyche needs to use her experience to her advantage to get on the field and make the impact the coaching staff believes she can. Marion Cagle will also come in and challenge for a spot as a freshman and a member of FSU’s 8th-ranked recruiting class in 2001.
“It will be a good and deep group in the back,” said Baker. “We are going to have some options just like we will up front and hopefully this group can pick-up right where we left off last year. Despite having the best season ever defensively, I think there is still room for improvement.”
This will be one of the most interesting positions this year, considering the Seminoles enter the season with three freshman goalkeepers on the roster. Baker is hoping the 10 players in front of the keeper are able to limit the amount of action the Seminole ‘s freshman goalies will face. He feels getting off to a strong start at the beginning of the season will be one of the keys if FSU ‘s freshman keepers are to help this team get back to the NCAA ‘s.
“There are some big games this year and if we can get off to a good early start and our team can gain some confidence with who is in goal that will be important for us,” said Baker. “I saw what that did for our team last year when Crawford did such a great job against Oregon State.”
Kerry York, Maryland ‘s Gatorade Player of the Year, enters the preseason as FSU ‘s No.1 keeper. She led Severna Park to the state title as a senior and was one of the northeast ‘s most highly recruited keepers but fellow freshmen Ali Mims and Joy McKenzie will come in and make it a very competitive situation. Mims was named the Florida Times-Union All-First Coast Player of the Year as a senior and posted a 0.64 GAA and a 23-2-1 record. McKenzie is a three-time all-district selection from Houston and, according to Baker the individual who plays and performs will start.
“There is always a bit of uneasiness when you have a freshman start in goal,” said Baker. “In the field, you can sometimes hide a freshman but if a freshman plays like a freshman in goal, that might not be good enough. I think keeper can be the hardest position for a freshman because you are the last line of defense and there are certain things you have to learn at this level. When you make a mistake in goal, it is magnified. This group realizes that and seems to thrive on the challenge.”
Baker on the 2001 coaching staff:
Despite having one of the youngest staffs in the ACC, Baker likes the makeup of this year’s group. The Seminoles have had so many coaching changes over Baker’s two years at FSU, but he believes it was always for the better. FSU’s managers and assistants have moved on to bigger and better coaching positions, which is a feather in FSU’s cap.
“We really feel like this year’s staff will be as good as any of our past staffs,” said Baker. “Coach Galas did such a wonderful job with Crawford last year and she was able to take a lot of the lessons he taught her into game situations. The nice thing about the changes we have had over the last couple of years is that we’ve always had a set of fresh eyes on our staff. Samantha Andersch will provide us with that fresh perspective this season as our new assistant coach. It will be great for us to look at this team through Sam’s eyes and maybe see some things we haven’t noticed in the past. Her input will be good for our team.”
Baker also feels that having Sarah Crawford and Rachael Watkin return as managers just a year removed from their roles as senior leaders is going to be wonderful for the team’s younger players. Both players played crucial roles in the Seminoles run to the Sweet 16 last season and they are welcome additions to the 2001 staff.