Nov. 3, 2004
“This time of the year is special,” said senior defender Katie Beal. “Getting back to play at SAS will be very special for this team. It is a goal of ours to play on Sunday again this year and we will try to start to make that happen today.”
The 15th-ranked and third-seeded Seminoles (12-5-1, 5-3-1) will meet the Tigers (10-6-1, 4-4-1) for the first time ever in the ACC Tournament at the SAS Soccer Complex today but the two teams are very familiar. This will be the eighth meeting between the two teams since 2000. The Seminoles have won four of the last five meetings and won the regular season meeting earlier this year 2-1 in Tallahassee. The Tribe has never beaten Clemson in the postseason sporting a 0-2 record versus the Tigers in two NCAA Tournament meetings.
“It is tough to beat a team as good as Clemson twice in a year,” said All-ACC defender Kelly Rowland. “They know what we bring to the table and we know what they have. It is going to be a huge battle and at ACC Tournament time the team’s are so good and even, it comes down to which team wants it more.”
“Any team in the ACC is a difficult opponent at this point of the year,” said Beal. “Clemson is a well-rounded team. We know each other’s systems and now it is just a matter of getting out there and playing.”
The Tigers are coming into the game having gone 0-1-1 in their last two matches but averaging two goals per game over the last eight games. Clemson midfielders Allison Graham and Paige Ledford have combined for seven goals and 15 assists and they were both named All-ACC first teamers this week. Forward Courtney Foster leads the team with seven goals and was named a second team All-ACC selection. Clemson has scored 37 goals this season and is allowing less than a goal per game.
“We have a tremendous amount of respect for their team and their coaching staff,” said head coach Patrick Baker. “We feel Clemson is not only one of the best teams in our conference but one of the best in the country. Their personnel and ability to score a lot of goals is scary. No matter what point of time it is in the game, they could erupt for three or four goals. If the game is in the balance, it can get away from you in a hurry. If you are fortunate enough to have a lead, it can quickly be erased. It will be a great game and we have to find a way to be successful and advance to Friday.”
“Clemson’s roster is full of great players and they have a very potent attack,” said Rowland. “It is going to take a huge effort by this entire team when it comes to defending today. Last time we played against them we played hard, we won our share of 50/50 balls and we need that mentality again if we want to be successful.”
The Seminoles come in to Wednesday’s game after losing their last two matches including a stunning loss to UCF after taking a 2-0 lead to the locker room at halftime. Florida State has never advanced at the ACC Tournament when coming into the championships on a two-game losing streak. The Seminole defense, which had allowed just 0.74 goals per game before the two-game skid, has allowed seven goals in the last two games.
“We need to obviously correct the things we did wrong the last two games,” said Beal. “We have to learn from our mistakes. We have to defend better. We need to step on the field today and defend well from front to back and show we are better than we have played the last two games.”
The match between the Seminoles and Tigers features two of six ranked teams at the ACC Tournament. Wednesday will feature two games with head-to-head battles between ranked squads and all six of the conferences ranked teams will be on display at Cary’s SAS Soccer Complex.
“The ACC Tournament is a wonderful event bringing eight great teams to one site with four games being played tomorrow,” said Baker. “Six nationally ranked teams are going to play and it just doesn’t get any better. Some of the best coaches, teams and players in the nation are here. The opportunity to compete in a tournament like this is one of the great things about coming into this conference. We look forward to this tournament year-in and year-out.”
Florida State will begin its quest to make a repeat performance in the finals at 2:30 p.m. this afternoon. Live play-by-play through Game Tracker will be available for all of FSU’s games at the ACC Tournament by logging on to seminoles.com, the official athletic website for Florida State University.