Aug. 18, 2004
Tallahassee, FL –
Expectations around Tallahassee are extremely high for the 2004 Florida State women’s soccer team and it seems the same is true nationally. For the first time in school history, Florida State will kick-off a season ranked in the top five in the nation. The Seminoles were pegged fifth in Soccer Buzz’s preseason poll released Wednesday afternoon.
“The attention and the exposure that come with a top five ranking is great for the program, the players and for recruits,” said head coach Patrick Baker. “Hopefully we finish the season in the top five again because it was a wonderful season last year. I think with the amount of experience of our returning players and a very good freshman class coming in, a lot of people feel we can make another great run. It is going to be a long season with a lot of soccer to be played. Hopefully when it is all said and done we can be near the top again.”
The No. 5 ranking equals the highest ranking FSU has ever received from Soccer Buzz. It ties the final ranking the Tribe received in 2003 when the team ended the season as one of the final four teams playing in the College Cup. It is also the second-highest ranking in school history. The only time FSU was ever ranked higher than fifth was when CollegeSoccer.com ranked the team fourth in September of 2001.
Soccer Buzz Preseason Top 5
1. North Carolina
2. Notre Dame
3. Santa Clara
4. Texas A&M
5. Florida State
The Seminoles are one of two ACC teams in the top five, joining defending Champion North Carolina who enters the season ranked No. 1. Four ACC teams are in the first top 25 of the season with a fifth, Clemson, receiving votes.
“I think there are fewer ACC teams in this poll than preseason polls in the past in all honesty,” said Baker. “I think that the conference has five to six teams that at various points in time will be in the top 25 if not higher. At the end of the regular season hopefully we will have a strong contingent of ACC teams that will make the NCAA Tournament and make some noise in the months of November and December.”
Five of FSU’s 2004 opponents are ranked among the nation’s top 25 squads. Four of the teams are ranked in the top 15, No. 1 North Carolina, No. 6 Florida, No. 13 Virginia, No. 14 Arizona State, and all four of those teams will be playing in Tallahassee this season. The other top 25 opponent is No. 24 Duke. Two FSU opponents, UCF and Clemson, are receiving votes.
“We know that we have a great home schedule and what makes it a great schedule is not just the fact that we are playing 13 home games but we are playing some absolutely fantastic, ranked teams,” said Baker. “Not to mention Wake Forest and Clemson and USC. I am very surprised the Trojans aren’t somewhere in the top 25 because I think (head coach) Jim (Millinder) has a wonderful team this year. Top to bottom our schedule is very competitive and our out of conference opponents will prepare us for the ACC. We need that because in conference play your are pretty much playing a team every game that will be playing in the month of November.”
The Seminoles start 2004 right where they finished 2003 in terms of regional rankings. The Tribe is ranked No. 2 in the southeast just behind national No. 1 UNC. The Seminoles have finished second in the region to the Tar Heels the last two years. Overall, 11 of the Seminoles’ 18 opponents are ranked either nationally or regionally.
“We fully know that it isn’t where you start it is where you end up,” said Baker. “If we start fifth and end fifth we know we have been consistent throughout the year. We know what we are capable of doing this year. We have to stay healthy, be fit and execute. If we do those things, we have a great chance to have a wonderful season.”
The fifth-ranked Seminoles will debut their 2004 squad for the hometown fans this Friday night at 7:00 p.m. when No. 23 Tennessee comes to town. The Lady Vols are coming off a Sweet 16 appearance in 2003. The highly anticipated scrimmage between two of the south’s top teams is open to the public and free of charge. The Tribe opens the regular season at home August 27 when No. 14 Arizona State heads to Tallahassee for the Nike Seminole Classic.