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GAMEDAY CENTRAL: Eleventh-Ranked Soccer Looks To Keep Rolling At Spry
Courtesy: Seminoles.com
Release: 10/18/2003
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Oct. 18, 2003

COMPLETE Weekly Release
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FSU vs. Wake Forest: LIVE STATS

If No. 11 Florida State wants to move to 4-1 in the ACC for the first time in school history Saturday night at W. Dennie Spry Stadium, they will need to buck recent history. The Seminoles (9-5-0, 3-1-0) have never won a regular season game at Wake Forest and are just 1-6-1 all-time at Spry Stadium. The Tribe has just one all-time win against No. 16 Wake Forest (9-3-2, 0-2-1) and they have never won three consecutive games all versus ACC opponents. The Tribe has just one win in the state of North Carolina ever and they have never won nine out of 10 games. For the Seminoles to win tonight they will need to buck those trends but that is nothing new to the 2003 FSU soccer team.

"I think tonight could be different because there is a lot of emotion going into this game," said senior co-captain Amber Tollefson. "Hopefully we will be able to turn that into success on a field where we haven't been able to get a result in the past."

When you start the season 1-4-0 after making the Sweet 16 the previous year, you find that what is supposed to happen doesn't really matter to you anymore. The 2003 Seminoles weren't supposed to begin the year 0-3-0 just like they weren't supposed to shutout then-No. 12 Duke 3-0. This year's Tribe wasn't supposed to give up 10 goals in the first five games just like they weren't supposed to record three straight shutouts including back-to-back blankings of ACC teams Duke and Clemson. So when this year's squad is told they aren't supposed to go into Winston-Salem and beat the Demon Deacons at Spry Stadium, don't blame them if they are over hearing about what they are and aren't supposed to do.

"After we lost three games to start the season, I think a lot of people doubted us but we knew what we were capable of," said Jez Ratliff. "I don't think people around the country thought we were capable of winning some of the games we have won lately. It hasn't surprised us. We weren't expected to beat a great Duke team 3-0. We weren't expected to go into Clemson and shut them out. We knew we were capable of that kind of success but now we are going out and executing."

With eight wins in the last nine games and four shutouts in its last five matches, the Tribe is a confident team right now. In the last nine games FSU has outscored opponents 29-7 and posted a 0.77 team GAA compared to 3.20 for their opponents. During this run, Florida State players have recorded 86 points while opposing players have just 19. From the front runners to keeper Joy McKenzie, the Seminoles are playing with a confidence they didn't have the first month of the season.

"Winning eight of the last nine including some big wins has definitely helped our confidence after a slow start," said Ratliff. "Since San Diego State we found what we were looking for and we just want to carry that into tonight and continue to play well."

One of the main reasons for FSU's confidence has been the play of their defense and McKenzie. The Tribe backline has shutout three straight opponents and allowed just seven goals in the last nine games. McKenzie, a junior from Houston, TX, is in the midst of a school record shutout streak that has reached 400:22. Even more amazingly, she hasn't allowed a goal in conference play in 265:22, which is also a program best. Wake has scored eight goals in the last three games against FSU so the play of the Tribe defense will be critical if FSU wants to get it's first-ever win over Wake at Spry.

"We have to defend collectively as a team tonight to have a chance," said junior center back Katie Beal. "We need to keep good pressure on the ball, have good goalkeeping and be solid across the board."

The Deacons come into tonight's game ranked in all four polls where they are rated as high as No. 11 by SoccerTimes.com and as low as 16th by Soccer America. After an eight-game winning streak, WFU is just 1-2-1 in its last four outings as it looks to avoid its worst ACC start since 1995. A loss tonight would drop Wake to 0-3-1 in the conference and put the Deacons just a half game out of last place in the nation's top conference.

"With all the conference games this weekend, we will start to see who is going to finish in the upper half, the middle and at the bottom of the ACC after tonight," said head coach Patrick Baker. "I hope our mentality and will to get to 4-1 is going to be superior to their will and desire to get their first ACC win of the season. Sometimes a team searching for that first win is the most dangerous team you can play. If they drop to 0-3-1 with so few games left, it is a huge uphill climb. On the other hand, if we can go to 4-1 we could put ourselves in a unique position to solidify a stronghold on finishing in the top half of the conference, which will allow us to have a little more control when NCAA and ACC Tournament seedings come out."

"Their ACC record doesn't mean anything because they have played the top of the conference so far," said Tollefson. "We know that their 0-2-1 mark isn't representative of how good Wake Forest is. We have a lot of respect for them and know how well they possess the ball. It will be a challenge for us."

You can follow all of the action Saturday night via Live Stats thanks to our friends at the Wake Forest Sports Information Office. For all the latest news on Seminole soccer please log on to the official athletic site for the Florida State University Department of Athletics at www.seminoles.com.

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