June 14, 2004
Tallahassee, FL - After playing in its first-ever College Cup in 2003 and a spring trip to Australia just a few months ago, the Seminole soccer team can finally turn its attention toward the 2004 season with the release of the team's schedule Monday. Florida State will play 13 of its 18 games at the Seminole Soccer Complex where FSU has won over 77% of its matches (33-9-2) since Patrick Baker's second year in 2000. The schedule also features games versus nine teams that played in the 2003 NCAA Tournament and the first-ever conference games versus Miami and Virginia Tech.
"I feel fortunate that the scheduling cycle and rotation is pretty heavy on home games in the even years. We have 13 home games and just five road games and of those five road games two come in the same weekend so we make just four trips," said Baker. "We feel fortunate with the team that we have, the home support we have and coming of the year we had that, at least on paper, this could prove to be one of the best years ever. We are excited we have the opportunity to host 13 games. With the environment our fans create, this could be a special year."
The home schedule is highlighted by visits from seven NCAA Tournament teams including Arizona State, Southern Cal, Clemson, Virginia and Wake Forest. On top of Elite Eight participant Florida and defending national champion North Carolina. Florida State has averaged over 800 fans per home game each of the last two seasons and in three of the last four years. All seven of the 1,000+ crowds in school history have come against teams visiting Tallahassee this season and over the last two years FSU has drawn more than 21,000 fans, which is more than the school drew in the first five years combined.
"When you look at who we have at home, opening weekend we play two heavyweights at home in Arizona State and Southern Cal.," said Baker. "We have home conference games on Friday nights versus Wake Forest, Virginia, North Carolina and Clemson. We will have wonderful crowds for that. I can see us breaking all-time attendance records for those games."
Despite the inordinate amount of home games, four of Florida State's five road games will come against teams in the newly expanded ACC. Just over a week into the season FSU will play its conference opener in Coral Gables, FL. The team will then play seven straight home games before traveling to Duke October 1. The only back-to-back road games of the season come at Maryland and NC State in the middle of October. The last time FSU traveled to Miami, Durham, Raleigh and College Park, it posted a 3-0-1 record in 2002. That season FSU completed its first ever undefeated regular season on the road versus this same rotation.
"We get two great in-state road games with Miami and FAU during our first road trip," said Baker. "The second week of the season and we are already in conference play. That is tough. Then we have conference games on the road versus Duke, Maryland and NC State. Those are great teams and they are difficult venues to play at. Those will be good tests for us. We won't have as many road tests but those will be good ones.
"Every year is different but I think although we were good and lucky at times on the road in 2003, we have proven we can win on the road. We won at West Virginia in the Sweet 16 last year and they were 19-1 at home entering that game. Florida was 18-0-2 in their last 20 home games before we won there in the Elite Eight. To go to those venues and win speaks volumes about this team."
Despite the expanded ACC schedule, the Florida State/Florida rivalry will continue as the teams meet in Tallahassee September 10. Since Baker took over the Seminole program FSU is 4-2 versus the Gators and his squads are undefeated in Tallahassee versus UF. The last time the Gators visited 1,603 fans turned out, the largest single game crowd in team history.
"Keeping Florida on the schedule is a priority," said Baker. "The Florida/Florida State game is becoming one of the best match-ups in the country in my opinion. That wasn't always the case. We feel good that we have finally become their equal. We feel very good about the results since we've come to Florida State. It will be one of those Friday night games that there will be a lot of people at the Seminole Soccer Complex."
With 10 starters from the College Cup returning on top of 13 home games, Baker is hoping 2004 will help produce one goal FSU has been unable to achieve. Despite going to three Sweet 16's and a College Cup in his four years, Baker's squads have never hosted an NCAA Sweet 16 or Elite Eight game.
"If we are able to do well at home with this schedule, there would be a great opportunity to host maybe more than the first and second rounds next year which is something we have never done," said Baker. "It is the one thing we haven't been able to do over the past couple years and it would be nice to change that. It will be difficult and we know that."
The Seminoles' first game of the 2004 season will be a scrimmage versus another 2003 NCAA Tournament team when Tennessee comes to town. The preseason game is slated for August 20 at 7:00 p.m. at the Seminole Soccer Complex. Admission is free to all home games at FSU's Seminole Soccer Complex.
2004 FLORIDA STATE SOCCER SCHEDULE
20 Tennessee (Scrimmage) Tallahassee, FL 7:00 p.m.
27 Arizona State Tallahassee, FL 7:00 p.m.
29 Southern Cal Tallahassee, FL 1:00 p.m.
3 Miami Coral Gables, FL 7:00 p.m.
5 FAU Boca Raton, FL 1:00 p.m.
10 Florida Tallahassee, FL 7:00 p.m.
12 Stetson Tallahassee, FL 1:00 p.m.
14 Jacksonville Tallahassee, FL 7:00 p.m.
17 Clemson Tallahassee, FL 7:00 p.m.
19 FIU Tallahassee, FL 1:00 p.m.
24 Virginia Tallahassee, FL 7:00 p.m.
28 USF Tallahassee, FL 7:00 p.m.
1 Duke Durham, NC 7:00 p.m.
8 Wake Forest Tallahassee, FL 7:00 p.m.
10 Virginia Tech Tallahassee, FL 1:00 p.m.
13 Maryland College Park, MD 7:00 p.m.
17 NC State Raleigh, NC 12:00 p.m.
22 North Carolina Tallahassee, FL 7:00 p.m.
28 UCF Tallahassee, FL 7:00 p.m.
31 Play-In Game Campus Sites TBA
3 Quarterfinals Cary, NC TBA
5 Semifinals Cary, NC TBA
7 Championship Cary, NC TBA
12&14 First & Second Rounds TBA TBA
19-21 Third Round TBA TBA
26-28 Fourth Round TBA TBA
3 College Cup Cary, NC TBA
5 National Championship Cary, NC TBA