Nov. 8, 2004
Tallahassee, FL – For the fifth consecutive season, the 17th-ranked Florida State soccer team has been invited to the NCAA women’s soccer tournament. The Tribe is one of just 18 teams in Division I soccer to play in each of the last five NCAA Tournaments. The Seminoles will open play this Friday in Gainesville, FL versus future ACC foe Boston College; a game time has yet to be announced. This is the eighth trip to the postseason for the Eagles and they have now gone in back-to-back years following a one-year absence. This will be the first ever meeting between FSU and BC.
“We are excited about getting into the tournament for the fifth straight year,” said head coach Patrick Baker. “It never gets old to see your name pop up on the television screen. We felt like we would be at Florida or Auburn if they were to host but we didn’t expect to see Boston College opposite our name. You just never know who is going to get matched up with you. The game versus Boston College is probably one of the better and more evenly-matched first round games for sure.”
The Tribe (12-5-2) will be looking to win its fifth-straight opening round NCAA Tournament game against the Eagles (14-6-0) Friday. The Seminoles have never been beaten on opening day of the NCAA’s. The Tribe is 9-4 all-time in the NCAA Tournament for a .692 winning percentage. That puts Florida State sixth all-time in NCAA Tournament history in tournament winning percentage. When you look at average wins per NCAA Tournament berth, the Seminoles are even better ranking fourth all time with 2.3 wins per trip. Overall, Florida State’s nine total wins put the Tribe in elite company. The Seminoles are one of just 20 teams to record nine NCAA Tournament wins. Of those teams with nine or more wins, none have gone to fewer NCAA Tournaments than seven while FSU has been to just four.
Outside of North Carolina, what the Tribe has done in just four NCAA Tournaments is amazing when compared to the rest of the ACC. No team in the ACC, barring North Carolina, has a better NCAA Tournament winning percentage or more wins per NCAA Tournament trip. Only Virginia has as many NCAA Tournament wins (nine) but it took the Cavaliers four times as many trips (16 to 4) to amass as many wins as Florida State.
“If you want to be successful in the NCAA Tournament, the most important thing is that opening round game,” said Baker. “That is the game you have the most time to prepare for. We take a lot of pride in our preparations. Sunday will not be there if you don’t take care of business Friday. You cannot look ahead. We will need to defend well and try to get that first goal. If you look at our success in the NCAA Tournament, those are the two areas we have done well in and it is why we have been successful.”
The Tribe and Eagles have never met in the history of their programs and neither played a single common opponent in 2004. Boston College was 0-4 in 2004 against teams ranked in the NSCAA Top 25 but they enter the NCAA Tournament 11-2-0 in their last 13 games. Their only two losses came against national No. 4 seed Notre Dame. The Seminoles, on the other hand, will come into the NCAA’s just 5-4-2 in their last 11 and coming off a tie and quarterfinal exit at the ACC Tournament.
“I actually prefer to play a team we have never seen before because the familiarity level can sometimes hurt you more than help,” said senior Marion Cagle. “When you play a team too many times I think you can get relaxed and that leads to sloppiness. I think we will be prepared and ready for a very good BC team.”
“We didn’t end the season the way we would have liked but we are learning from the mistakes we made,” said senior Katie Beal. “We are going to make sure we are very well prepared individually and as a group. We have rested and regrouped. We feel our backs are against the wall and we usually respond to those situations. We all know what’s at stake. If we lose, we are done. None of us are ready for that yet.”
This is just the second time in five years in which FSU will not open the NCAA Tournament at home. Florida State is 9-4 in the NCAA Tournament and almost half of those victories (four) have come away from home. The Tribe has never hosted a game beyond the round of 32 so the biggest postseason wins in school history have all come away from Tallahassee including a Sweet 16 and Elite Eight win in this weekend’s venue, Percy Beard Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Boston College will enter Friday’s match having played just two NCAA Tournament games in the last four years while the Tribe will counter with a team made up of players who have played in a combined 88 postseason matches.
“It is very difficult to play on the road in the NCAA Tournament,” said junior Teresa Rivera. “We are down to the best of the best right now but we have some experience playing away from home and playing good teams on the road. Preparation will be a key and then we can rely on our experience as well.”
Florida State is one of eight ACC schools to be invited to the NCAA Tournament. Along with FSU’s first round opponent, the ACC has nine current or future members in the 2004 field. North Carolina was named the tournament’s top seed while Virginia garnered a third seed. Maryland, Wake Forest, Clemson and Duke were all invited along with the ACC’s newest member Virginia Tech.
“It is fantastic to see eight ACC teams in the field,” said Baker. “I am so excited for (Virginia Tech coaches) Kelly and Dan Cagle and the Hokies. I really felt they were worthy and I am glad the NCAA selection committee felt that way too. I wouldn’t want to be playing Maryland either. That team is playing with unbelievable spirit. Any of our other teams could make a great run as well. It is unfortunate Duke and Virginia might have to meet on Sunday because both are capable of going as far as the final four.”
As soon as more information is made available for Florida State’s opening round game with Boston College, it will be posted on the official athletic website for Florida State University at www.seminoles.com.