Aug. 21, 2003
- The Seminoles are coming off arguably the most successful season in program history and 2003 could be even better.
- Florida State returns four of its top five point scorers from 2002 and seven of the top nine point scorers. Four of the team's top five goal scorers are back and four of the top six players when it comes to game-winning goals return this season. FSU also returns five of its six assist leaders.
- Florida State will face four teams (Penn State, USC, FAU and SDSU) for the first time ever in 2003. Overall, the Seminoles are 28-23-5 against their 2003 opponents since Baker took over the program in 1999.
Baker's Take: I am excited and very optimistic about what this season could have in store for us. On paper, we have one of our best teams ever here at Florida State. I am anxious to get our highly touted recruiting class mixed in with a strong core of veterans. We need to replace a pretty special senior class that did a lot for this program over the last four years. The team has wonderful leadership in senior co-captains Amber Tollefson and Kristin Boyce. Last season was great but nothing came easy for us. We hope to change that with a better mentality, better defending, excellent goalkeeping and I think we got a lot of those things started during the recent spring season.
Burning Question: What will it take for FSU to live up to the team's lofty pre-season expectations?
"Our team and incoming freshman class have lofty expectations to live up to following several pre-season polls. We have all the talent we could ever need to make an impression in college soccer this year but the biggest challenge for us to meet those expectations is how we all fit together on and off the field. The most important thing for us will be how all of our talent and personalities mesh together when we step on the field. We need to find what system works best for the players that we have and then when we have that all figured out, I think our love for the game, fitness level and competitive nature will carry us a long way this season." - Jez Ratliff
- Of 287 women's soccer programs, Florida State is one of just 14 that has advanced into the Round of 16 at two of the last three NCAA Tournaments.
- The 2003 College Cup and ACC Tournament will both be played in the SAS Soccer Stadium in Cary, NC.
- Florida State has played three of its eight NCAA Tournament games at home including playing host to the first and second rounds in 2002.
Baker's Take: We always talk about taking that next step as a program. Part of our team's mentality is that we have been to the Round of 16 two of the last three years and been just 90 minutes away from the quarterfinals. The next logical step in many people's minds is that we've been on the doorstop and now its time to knock that door down. Every year is different though so that isn't necessarily our thought process. Our goal every year is to play a wonderful schedule in the regular season and challenge our players. When it is all said and done, hope-fully we have won more than we have lost, finished in the upper half of the ACC standings and get an opportunity to put our-selves into the NCAA Tournament. We have been able to do that the last three years. All we are looking to do is position ourselves to be selected. It seems simple but you can't get caught up in looking too far ahead. You have to take one step at a time to reach each of those goals.
Burning Question: The Seminoles came a step closer to advancing to the Elite Eight in 2002. What do you need to do to take that next step?
"We need to believe we can take that next step and buy into that belief from day one. We have to set our goals high. We have so much talent but we have to be hungry. We can't be satisfied with just getting back to the Round of 16." - Amber Tollefson
? Last year Florida State set a school record with 12,422 fans visiting the Seminole Soccer Complex. That was the ninth-best total in the nation.
? This year half of the Seminoles home games will come against teams that were ranked last year or who played in the 2002 NCAA Tournament.
? The 2003 FSU soccer schedule could easily be the toughest ever played in Seminole soccer history. More than half (9 of 17) of the scheduled matches are against 2002 NCAA Tournament teams including two College Cup participants (Penn State and North Carolina). Not one team on the schedule posted a losing record last season and FSU's opponents went a combined 226-114-24 (.654). Eleven of the teams had 13 or more wins and six won at least one game in the NCAA Tournament.
Burning Question: How big of a challenge will it be opening the 2003 campaign with nationally ranked teams USC and Penn State?
"I am really excited about our opening games with nationally ranked teams. I think it will be a real test of where we are and what we need to do with our game to fit in with the best. It's another great opportunity and I'm looking forward to the challenge with this year's team." - Camie Bybee
ACC IN 2003
? Six of the conference's eight teams were in the 2002 NCAA Women's Soccer Championships, equaling the PAC-10 and Big Ten for most participants.
? The ACC was tied with West Coast Conference with the most teams in the Round of 16 (3).
? Five ACC teams were ranked in the final SoccerBuzz and Soccer America polls and all eight schools were ranked at some point during the 2002 season.
Baker's Take: Our mindset, ever since I have been here, has just been to fight to be .500 or above in the ACC considering how tough the conference is. For everybody outside of North Carolina, it is so hard to win that many games in our conference. If you go 4-3 or 5-2, that is pretty good and you probably won't have to open the ACC Tournament against the Tar Heels. Looking at the ACC, you just can't find one game that you can circle and say "that's a win". We are playing the upper half of the 2002 conference standings on the road this year. It is very difficult to go to Carolina, Clemson, Wake Forest and Virginia and get quality wins. Those are tough places to play, on top of hosting Maryland, Duke and NC State.
Burning Question: What are your expectations in the ACC this year after winning seven conference games the last two years?
"We have a core of experienced players that have developed a level of play that really allows us to compete effectively in the conference. With our experience and the addition of a very talented freshman class, we should be able to have our best ACC season to date." - Kerry York
- Florida State has scored 45 or more goals for three straight seasons for the first time in school history.
- The Tribe's 101 goals in the last two seasons are more than any two seasons combined in program history.
Burning Question: How will the forwards replace Cindy Schofield's 102 career points and 40 career goals?
"There is no true way to replace a player like Cindy. She brought a lot to all aspects of the game. I think that goal scoring will be more of a team job this year, instead of counting on one player to put the ball in the back of the net it will be a team effort coming from both the midfield and the forwards. Both Leah (Gallegos) and I learned a lot about how each other plays this past spring and we both made huge strides as a unit. I think that will help in finding the goals this year." - Alli Ferreri
- Of the five forwards on this year's team, only two have ever played a collegiate soccer game and the group has just 14 starts among them.
- Three freshmen, including Parade All-American Julia Schnugg, will vie for playing time opposite 2002 All-ACC rookie team member Leah Gallegos.
- Leah Gallegos finished the 2002 campaign second on the team in points, goals, game-winning goals, shots and shots on goal. She had one of the most prolific offensive seasons of any FSU rookie as she appeared in the single season top five of every statistical category for freshmen.
Baker's Take: Most people are going to look to Leah Gallegos as someone who can be counted on to produce game in and game out. Alli Ferreri made great strides up top in the spring. Ali Wean, Julia Schnugg, Amber McCall and even possibly Toby Ranck are all players that could see some time as forwards and help us there. We are going to be young offensively with the core group being freshmen and sophomores. That is exciting because if we can step up and have some success that bodes really well for the future. Especially since we lose just two players to graduation, albeit two very special players. I think we will have four or five frontrunners that can truly play at a high level game in and game out. We have never had that luxury since I have been here at Florida State.
Burning Question: Every forward is either a sophomore or freshman this year. Is that an advantage or a disadvantage?
"I think it is going to be an advantage for us. We are going to start to develop a chemistry this year that we can build on for the next three seasons. This is going to allow us to grow together and develop as a group. It might be a little tough at first but Alli (Ferreri) have experience together and the new group of forwards in the freshman class are extremely talented so I think it will be great for us down the road." - Leah Gallegos
- Despite the loss of Jenny Garcia in the middle of the defense, Florida State returns arguably the best midfield in Baker's tenure. Three-year starter Amber Tollefson, an emerging Jez Ratliff and FSU's fourth-best career point producer Camie Bybee are all back.
- Junior Jez Ratliff had a breakout year as she finished in the top three on the team for points, goals and assists. She set a career high for goals in 2002 and after she moved to the wide midfield, the speedy Oklahoman tallied seven of her 16 points in just 10 games.
- Camie Bybee is quietly putting together a record-setting career at Florida State. The 2001 second team freshman All-American is on pace to challenge Cindy Schofield's records for career goals, assists and points and she leads all current Seminoles in all three of those career categories.
Out wide, Amber Tollefson, Jez Ratliff and Erin Preston are returning and are joined by freshmen Toby Ranck and Kelly Rowland. One of strengths has always been our wide play. Unfortunately we won't have Summer Corum back this season but we have always got after people from the flanks and been able to get behind opposing defenses. I don't think that will change much this year. Our wide players are very exciting and they have such a wonderful understanding of the way we want to play.
"There are going to have to be a lot of players stepping up to fill that void. Amber (Tollefson) saw her points drop from 2001 to 2002 and that goes for Camie (Bybee) also. Jez (Ratliff) was pretty even from her freshman to sophomore year so all three of those veteran midfielders are going to have to step up. The one player that probably can change the complexion of a game, that can put the ball in the back of the net and who we recruited to do that is Camie. She did a fair bit of that in the spring but she will need to do it on a consistent basis this year for us to enjoy a successful season."
- After allowing the second-fewest goals in team history in 2002, the 2003 defense returns virtually intact. All three goalkeepers are back and FSU will return three starters on the backline.
- Senior Kristin Boyce is the Seminoles' all-time leader in goals and points for a defender and is a two-time All-Region selection.
- Katie Beal, a 2001 first team freshman All-American, returned to form in 2002 after being sidelined for almost two months during her sophomore campaign.
What we finally got to see in the spring was the combination of Katie Beal and Teresa Rivera in the central part of our defense. They compliment each other and enjoyed one of the best springs as far as development between two players. They played with and off one another so well. On the right hand side, a player that really started to emerge was Jessica Bell. She worked extremely hard in the off-season and came into the spring and made a huge statement. She was fit and she played well for us. Our outside right back spot has always been a little bit of a question mark for us going into the preseason. That is no different this year and we will be looking for someone to solidify that spot. It will probably be the player who is most consistent. Marion Cagle has the potential to play there as well and could crack the starting line-up. They both have to play well on a consistent basis.
Burning Question: Can this defense be as good as the one that allowed only 31 goals in 2000?
"I am excited about this group and it could be one of the best I have played with. You never can tell though until we all get out there and play together. When we get a rotation set and I get a chance to look at the freshmen, we should have a better idea of how much we can accomplish as a unit. I hope we can challenge the group from my freshman year in 2000 who allowed the fewest goals in FSU history." - Kristin Boyce
- Joy McKenzie filled in for injured keepers Kerry York and Ali Mims during the spring campaign and didn't allow a single goal.
- Ali Mims saw her first action this spring since fracturing her leg in the 2002 pre-season opener against Georgia.
- Junior Kerry York is already second all-time at FSU in career wins and career GAA.
Baker's Take: If everybody is healthy, it is as good as a group of three as there is in the country. All of them now have a season of experience be it spring or fall. A lot of people wrote us off last year when Ali Mims went down against Georgia in the preseason but Kerry York and Joy McKenzie responded with very good seasons, especially Kerry in the fall. We managed to end up with a pretty good year after losing what some
Burning Question: How heated will the competition be to secure the starting keeper job?
"The battle to earn the starting job in goal will be extremely competitive. Kerry York will be looking to improve on a good sophomore season, while Joy McKenzie enters training camp on the back of a very successful spring season in terms of her individual development. With Ali Mims working hard to recover from injury we will soon have three very talented players pushing for one position. Competition this strong will be of great benefit to the program." - Rob Thompson
- The 2003 senior class is attempting to become the first in FSU soccer history to go to four NCAA Tournaments and have four consecutive winning seasons. They need just 10 wins to become the winningest class in FSU history.
- This year's seniors have defeated every ACC team except for Virginia and are 9-10-2 overall in ACC play. Before their arrival, FSU was 3-30-2 all-time in conference games.
- This 2003 senior class has an all-time winning percentage of .634. No class in FSU history has a better winning percentage and none has won as many games (42) in a three year span.
- Seniors Amber Tollefson and Kristin Boyce have combined to miss just four games in their three year careers.
Baker's Take: They have both meant so much to this program both on and off the field. You are talking about players who want to win, who strive to win and do the things necessary to get there. They are both blessed with talent but also have individual work rates that make them a joy to be around. They always want to be better and sometimes that is contagious and they bring other players along. It just seems like the other day I was doing the home visit with Amber (Tollefson). I can almost remember that visit verbatim. When I recruited Amber, she was thought of as the number two player in Florida and I told her "people are going to know where you go to school". I really wanted her to come to Florida State and looking back I will remember the type of person she is. After every season she will send a card or note or email to me asking if I can imagine how far we have come together and as a program. She had a hand in bringing in half of our recruiting class this year and you can't put a price tag on how she attracts quality people to our program. Players want to play with her. Kristin Boyce is more of a quiet leader and her actions speak so loudly. I will never forget what she said to me in our post-season meeting after her freshman year. I asked her what she was looking forward to as a sophomore. She told me that she just wanted to prove to the coaches and her teammates that she deserved to start again. That was so refreshing to hear. She started as a freshman on a Sweet 16 team and her only goal was to prove her worth all over again. I think people here picked up on that wonderful attitude. She is so consistently good and plays every game at such a high level. Boyce is a great representative of our program.
"There is pressure for the team as a whole to do well. Being able to send Amber and Boyce off after having a successful senior season would be ideal. Amber and Boyce were part of the first recruiting class to come in and make a huge difference to our program so it would be nice for them to leave knowing this program a lot better. Not only is there pressure to give Amber and Boyce a compelling season but also for the team to succeed this year." - Marion Cagle
BIGGEST OBSTACLES IN 2003
- Florida State will play two ACC regular season games and the ACC Tournament in North Carolina where the team has won just two games versus conference opponents since 1999.
- Only eight of Florida State's 18 regular season games will be played at the Seminole Soccer Complex.
- The Seminoles must find players to replace 40% of their point production from 2002 and 20 of the team's 46 goals.
Baker's Take: Individually we have to be healthy and if that is the case we need to be fit. We are going to have to re-visit what we did well in the spring and that was defending. We went the entire spring without giving up a goal and that attitude became pervasive. We knew we were going to defend well and we knew it would take something pretty special from the opponents to score against us. Great teams that go to the College Cup usually get there in the midst of a great streak. Last year it was great that we went into the Sweet 16 on a streak of 21 straight games with a goal but I also now that we gave up too many goals. We gave up too many goals at crucial times and in big five moments. There needs to be a better attention to detail and that involves a change in mentality. I think we were able to do that in the spring but we have been away for a while and nothing ever stays the same. Cindy Schofield said that when you defend well the transition to getting forward is that much easier and I think that is so true. It will be an emphasis for us this year. That said we are as excited for this upcoming season as we have ever been and look forward to the challenges in front of us.
Burning Question: With so much recent success, what is your biggest concern? Is it complacency or the fact you are now a big game for so many teams?
"Our players and coaches won't be complacent - we are consistently pushing ourselves. We realize for some schools we are now a big game, which adds to the difficulty but we want to be a big game on people's schedules. Florida State baseball coach Mike Martin said it best last year when he said he would stop coaching once FSU was no longer the big game on other team's schedules. I feel the same way. I want to walk into other people's places, play in front of their biggest crowds ever and take our opponents best shot. Let's embrace all of that and take care of business. We might not be there yet for everyone on our schedule but we have gained respect in the state of Florida, in the ACC and on the national scene." - Patrick Baker