Aug. 28, 2003
Tallahassee, FL - For the fourth time this preseason, the Florida State soccer team has been ranked in the Top15, this time by the first Soccer Times poll of the year. With its fourth Top 15 ranking in hand, FSU will head into Friday night's season opener versus No. 19 USC with a consensus preseason Top 15 ranking for the first time in the program's history.
"It is an exciting time of the year for us and we are once again honored to be recognized," said head coach Patrick Baker. "There are so many things that are going to happen in the next couple of days that will either allow us to solidify that lofty ranking or allow us to find out a little bit more about ourselves."
"It is an honor for us and a lot of this is due to our success last year and the addition of an amazing freshman class. Since coach Baker has come to FSU, we have gotten better and better and people's expectations of us have increased also," said Alli Ferreri. "Being ranked in the top 15 automatically sets us up as a target going into the season. Teams are more aware of us now. Opponents look forward to playing us. We have become more of a big game."
Florida State entered the 2002 season in the Top 15 in three of four polls including a program-high preseason ranking of No. 10 from SoccerBuzz. The Tribe proceeded to go 3-2-2 out of the gate before making a run to the Sweet 16. This year's squad is trying to show they learned a lesson last year and not allow that to happen again despite the strong competition opening weekend.
"It is nice to have people outside of the program recognize us," said Jez Ratliff. "It adds some pressure to all of us. Our opponents come in a little more prepared and just slightly more focused since we are highly ranked. It is up to us to handle that pressure and live up to the ranking. Last year we were highly ranked also but we started slow and finished strong. This year we want to be more consistent from day one."
Eight FSU opponents are ranked in the Soccer Times poll including six ACC teams. Three Seminole foes appear in the Top 10 with North Carolina holding down the top spot, Penn State coming in at No. 6 and Virginia starting the season ranked 10th. Florida is also in the poll at No. 23 meaning FSU will open the year with three straight games versus teams in the Soccer Times Top 25.
"We face so many good teams this year and that is going to make for an exciting season," said Baker. "Every week we are going to have to play well to succeed. There are so many good teams in the ACC that the top five or six will probably be in the Top 25 throughout the year. Last year, every single team was ranked at one point in time and that is a huge statement about the quality of the ACC.
"We have tried to step up our scheduling outside of the ACC also. We will always play Florida and that is a great program. Two years ago we played Santa Clara and Portland who are the last two National Champions. This year we have USC and Penn State. The great thing about it is our players would rather face highly ranked, national powers. A lot of people from coast to coast will look at the results from those games and that is a great thing."
Florida State's will battle No. 19 USC Friday night at the Seminole Soccer Complex. The game is set to start at 7:00 p.m. There is no admission charge. If you are unable to attend the game, Live Stats of the contest will provided exclusively at the official athletic website for FSU at www.seminoles.com.