Oct. 15, 2001
MIAMI, Fla. –
In its first five seasons, Florida State posted just one ten-win season but with a victory Tuesday night against Florida International University (7-3-0, 3-1-0) the Seminoles (9-3-0, 3-1-0) could post back-to-back ten win campaigns for the first time in school history. If FSU records a victory Tuesday evening, they would also tie a record set last season by reaching their 10th win in just 14 games.
“We have been getting off to slow starts on the road and that has been a concern for us,” said head coach Patrick Baker. “Our whole focus is on FIU because getting to 10 wins as a soccer team is one of the toughest things you can do. It will be tough Tuesday night but getting to double digit wins is one of our goals and hopefully that will help us remain focused.”
The Seminoles travel to Miami in search of their 14th win in their last 15 games against opponents from the state of Florida but the Golden Panthers are in the midst of one of the most successful starts in program history. FIU posted a 15-6-0 record in 2000 and Florida State is 3-0-0 all-time against the Panthers while winning last year’s meeting in Tallahassee 4-1.
FIU has already defeated the only top 25 team on its schedule this year when they traveled across town to face No. 24 Miami. The Golden Panthers’ 2-1 win over the Hurricanes was the school’s first win over a ranked opponent in two years. Florida International almost recorded another huge upset when they fell by just one goal to a Duke squad that made it to the second round of the 2001 NCAA Tournament.
“They have already defeated a nationally ranked opponent in Miami and played Duke, an ACC team, extremely tough so our work will be cut out for us especially without Marte (Vik Edvardsen who is out with a knee injury),” said Baker. “I’ve always felt we play our best soccer when she is in our line-up so we will have a little bit of a different look Tuesday night. On the positive side, we get (Katie) Beal back who missed the game against UNC. We are going to have to try and re-establish a good rhythm without our usual rotation.”
The match against Florida International is the sixth road game so far for FSU against an opponent the Seminoles faced at the Seminole Soccer Complex in 2000. Florida State is 3-2 in those games after posting a 4-1 record at home versus this group last season. FSU won five road games in 2000 and have the opportunity to break the all-time record for road wins with four remaining road games left on the slate this season.
“This is another quality in-state opponent that we faced at home last year but have to go on the road to play this season,” said Baker. “We are trying to establish ourselves as a good road team and this will be another test in an attempt to establish that goal.”
Sunbelt Conference Player of the Year Michelle O’Brien and Newcomer of the Year Sasja Odeyno lead the Golden Panthers. Odeyno already has nine goals and four assists after posting an eye-popping 25 goals during her freshman campaign. O’Brien, a senior from Plainview, NY, also has scored nine goals and is just one assist behind Odeyno.
“Both of them (O’Brien and Odeyno) are very talented and they know how to find the back of the net,” said Baker. “One is extremely talented when she gets the ball and the other will seek the ball and when she gets it will run at you and wreak havoc. We are going to have to be very aware of where they both are.”
Junior Cindy Schofield whose 21 points have come on eight goals and five assists is still pacing the Seminoles offensively. The Lakeland, Fla. native was named ACC Player of the Week last week and just completed a five game stretch in which she scored five goals and recorded two assists. Two of the five goals were game-winners and one was a golden goal against Duke, which moved FSU to 3-0-0 in conference play.
Freshman Ali Mims gets her seventh straight start in goal for FSU Tuesday evening while incumbent starter Kerry York continues to recover from a knee injury suffered in an OT win versus NC State. The 2001 Florida Times-Union All-First Coast Player of the Year has posted a 5-2 record and 1.5 shutouts since taking over for the Gatorade Player of the Year from Maryland. Mims has a 1.53 GAA and a .697 save percentage and she has a 2-1 record against conference opponents.
“Coming in against NC State and then starting my first game against Florida, I felt I was ready but since then I have gained a comfort level with my teammates that I didn’t have on the bench,” said Mims. “I have a better understanding of the game now. The big games against NC State and Duke and even the loss to UNC help me a lot. They are great learning experiences and I try to learn from every goal that is scored against us. I have learned so much from my teammates and my defense has been exceptional in front of me. I couldn’t ask for a better group to work with.”
Florida State is currently in second place in the Atlantic Coast Conference and, after facing FIU Tuesday night, will begin a stretch in which it plays its last three conference games over a four game span. The Seminoles will travel to Wake Forest for a Saturday night match and then return home to face No. 24 Miami Thursday, October 25 at 7:00 p.m. With one win in its last three ACC matches, FSU will wrap-up its first-ever winning conference record and if FSU is able to win two of its last three ACC games, the Seminoles will likely finish the season in second or third in the conference. Prior to this season, FSU has never finished higher than seventh in the eight-team conference.
“I’m not worried about our kids looking ahead to the next four games against three ACC opponents and Miami,” said Baker. “I give our group credit for approaching every game the same way. We know we played well against FIU at home last year but were in the midst of a great stretch (6-0-1 in seven games). I don’t think that is the case this year and if we don’t win Tuesday the upcoming stretch won’t mean much.”