Aug. 11, 2004
Tallahassee, Fla. – The first day of three-a-days got off to a good start at the crack of dawn with the first fitness session of 2004. Weather wreaked havoc with the schedule later in the morning as the skies turned pitch black and the rain came pouring down driving both soccer and football inside to seek shelter. The team did eventually get out for the morning training session and notes are below.
The team looked great in the morning fitness session. The fitness level was improved from this time last year, which is one way of showing that the players aren’t resting on last year’s accomplishments. Rachel McDowell led the way finishing first with an amazing burst of speed half way through to take a lead she would never relinquish. The top freshman finisher was Tallahassee’s Jordan Bryant. The top seven finishers are listed below:
After a huge thunderstorm, the team took to the practice field to get in a brief technical training session in soggy field conditions. Despite the difficult surface here are a few of the highlights:
Rain Delay – During the brief rain delay in the morning, the Seminoles congregated in the locker room and watched the team’s College Cup game versus UConn. For a majority of the players and coach Baker, it was the first time they had seen the ESPN2 telecast of the final four match.
The Sophomores – Players like India Trotter, Julia Schnugg, Rachel McDowell and Kelly Rowland really stood out in the 5v5. Schnugg and McDowell combined to score four goals. Trotter and Rowland were as tough as ever down the center of the pitch. This class had the most successful freshman campaign ever as far as individual honors go and they look hungry to back it up in 2004.
The Goal Scorers – Leah Gallegos wasted little time showing why she is on the MAC Herman Trophy watch list. The junior scored five goals in 5v5 and showed some of her freshman teammates what they can expect to see everyday in training and in ACC play. Gallegos wasn’t alone. As mentioned above fellow forward Julia Schnugg was effective around the goalmouth as well. The Tribe got big contributions from wide midfielders too as team captain Jez Ratliff scored three goals and McDowell, who is vying for a starting spot in a talented Seminole midfield, look great as well (see note above).
The Return– One of the best sights of day one was watching redshirt sophomore Ali Mims back in goal for the Seminoles. The goalkeeper has gone through more than a dozen surgeries since breaking her leg in a preseason game in 2002 at Georgia. After going through one setback after another, Mims looks ready to contribute in 2004.
The first day of three-a-days concluded with the juniors and seniors taking on the sophomores and freshman in an hour-long scrimmage. The FSU senior class, six strong, came into the scrimmage looking to leave FSU 3-1 all time as a group in the annual opening night match, They were led by goalkeeping coach Rob Thompson and it didn’t take long for the youngsters to start talking trash to the veteran group. As coach Robin Confer broke the team huddle the rookies and sophomores walked off to a cheer of “You Are Old”. They may be old but the juniors and seniors proceeded to respond “Your Cheer Stinks” and they went on to show the newcomers a thing or two.
Leah Gallegos and Camie Bybee provided the offensive spark as each scored a goal and Gallegos picked up an assist on Bybee’s goal. The upperclassmen limited the offensive chances for the rookies and second-year players. The only real scoring threat came when a fortuitous bounce sprung Julia Schnugg on a break away. She got goalkeeper Joy McKenzie leaning the wrong way but the all-region keeper lunged back to her left and just got a hand on the shot as Schnugg tried to beat her near post. The save preserved the shutout in the 2-0 win. Freshmen Libby Gianeskis, Sage Sizemore and Armani Rice all had some very nice stretches during the scrimmage but as head coach Patrick Baker expected, the veterans got the win.
Seniors Camie Bybee and Katie Beal had the following to say after their victory:
“We really wanted to come out and set a standard,” said Bybee. “They were tough. They were good competition but we wanted to show them what it is all about.”
“Our experience playing at this level helped out a bit,” added Beal. “We also know what it takes to play at Florida State.”
Head Coach Patrick Baker Overall thoughts on day one:
“I was pretty pleased. There was a lot of improvement from last year during the fitness session. That was very encouraging. I thought the overall group came back in better shape than last year. You hope that is the case after the type of season we had. As a coach you hope the players return with an excitement and energy to want to do well.”
“We got in a rain shortened morning session. I saw some bits and pieces in the 5v5-plus game, which was great. Tonight the upper classmen won the scrimmage and in fairness they probably should win. They have traditionally done so and today was no different. They are more familiar with one another and they have a lot of the advantages that the younger players don’t have. That doesn’t mean there weren’t some good things from the younger players. On day one, you got to kind of take it for what its worth. There were some good impressions. Some players probably felt a little lost. Hopefully they come back tomorrow and pick it up.”
Head Coach Patrick Baker After day one, do you fell this team came in satisfied with what they did in 2003 or is hungry to achieve more?
“I think it is safe to say that nobody who played here last year and nobody on our coaching staff is satisfied with what happened last year. We won games but we didn’t win any championships. We didn’t win an ACC Championship, we didn’t win an ACC Tournament Championship and we didn’t win a National Championship. In essence we are like a lot of other college teams around the country. This group was close in a lot of ways to achieving those things and when you get a taste of that you want it a little bit more. You are willing to do a little bit more. That seems to be the case amongst our returners.”
Head Coach Patrick Baker on Who stood out today:
“Rachel McDowell set a great example in the Cooper. I thought Leah Gallegos was phenomenal in the short-sided game. She continually scored in a number of different ways. She created chances and finished chances. She was a cut above. Tonight I would say Julia Schnugg and India Trotter looked good for the younger team along with Kelly Rowland. There was some good play out of Sage Sizemore in the midfield and Libby Gianeskis in the back. Others showed the potential, it is just drawing it out of them.”
“Teresa Rivera really stood out from the returners. I thought she was getting the ball and making great runs. She made a lot of good decisions and made a lot of things happen for her team. That was great for her confidence and great to see this early in camp.”
Rachel McDowell On the first day back:
“I felt good today. It was good to back playing again with my teammates. I think we all felt a little bit shaky since we haven’t played together in a while but it is so much fun to be back playing with this group.”
On fighting to win a starting spot in the midfield:
“My personal goal is to go out and just do the best that I can and play to my abilities. If I can get a starting spot that is what I definitely want to do. I hope to make a big impact on the team and I think there is a greater opportunity this season for not just me but a lot of the players on this team. I am going to do everything I can to win a spot in the starting 11.”
Libby Gianeskis On her first day of college soccer:
“I was really nervous coming into today. The upperclassmen were really encouraging all of us and they helped me make it through the day. It wasn’t so bad and I am looking forward to getting back out tomorrow.”
Kelly Rowland On the sophomore class’ potential impact in 2004:
“I feel like we all have a lot more experience under our belts. Preseason is tough for the freshmen and we were no different last year. You don’t know anyone and it is all unfamiliar. I think there are a lot of expectations surrounding this team and our class. We will be up to the challenge and having a year of experience will really help.
Jordan Bryant On finishing first among the freshman in the Cooper and her first day of practice:
“It felt good to do well in the morning fitness session because distance running is one of my stronger areas as far as fitness goes. So it felt good to have a strong showing. I want to try and follow up with another good performance when we move to the shorter distances and do well in the sprints. Overall, it wasn’t a bad morning. I know some of that had to do with the cooler weather and a shorter training session but it just felt to touch the ball.”
Ali Mims On her first official day back after battling injuries for two years:
“It feel blessed to be able to participate and not watch. I really feel blessed this year to be out there again. My main goal is just to play soccer again. I am not out here to prove anything to anybody. I know it will take a long time for me to be at the level I want to be at but today is a first step. I am excited and feel really good about what I was able to do today. It isn’t about me though. It is just about being a part of this team again.”