Dec. 1, 2006
Cary, NC - The fifth-ranked FSU soccer team returned to the College Cup for the third time in four years and vowed to make this trip different. After suffering shutout losses in both previous trips, the 2006 Seminoles lived up to their word but fell just short of advancing to the school's first ever National Championship game. Notre Dame (25-0-1) ran out to a 2-0 lead on Florida State (18-4-4) and then held on during a furious second half attack for a 2-1 victory.
"I thought it was a very good soccer game," said FSU Head Coach Mark Krikorian. "The two teams were very interested in playing good soccer. The first half I thought that Notre Dame was in more control of the game, in the second I felt our team was. But very hard fought and credit to Notre Dame for protecting the lead. Good game, tough result for us but that's the way this game goes."
For FSU the 2006 national semi-final started to play out in an all too familiar fashion to the 2005 game versus UCLA. The Seminoles once again played an opponent to a 0-0 tie before allowing two goals in the last 10 minutes of the first half. Last year versus the Bruins, FSU could not get back in the game but this year was different. India Trotter cut the Fighting Irish lead in half just 6:22 into the second period. The Seminoles then continued to pressure Notre Dame but could not cash in and score the equalizer.
"A two-goal lead in probably the most dangerous lead to have," said Notre Dame Head Coach Randy Waldrum. "You're probably better off to only be up one often times. We didn't want to give up an early goal in the second half and we didn't want to sit and we wanted to continue to attack. But then they got the goal early."
The goal came when FSU moved Trotter up top in the second half. The first team NSCAA All-American started the game in the back to try and deal with Notre Dame's M.A.C. Hermann Trophy finalist Kerrie Hanks. After Florida State fell behind 2-0, Krikorian changed the formation and pushed Trotter into the attack.
"I think there were a lot of factors that led to it in the second half," said Krikorian. "First of all, there wasn't a decent wind in the first half so putting her in the back line helped us protect the game a little bit. When she moved up front it gave us even more energy.
"We know that India's going to be a National Team back, we've trained her there some and she's played for us some there. We thought in the match-up today the tactics might suit us best to start that way and then read the game as it went on."
The energy Trotter provided was evident immediately and lasted the entire 45 minutes. The Seminoles out shot the Irish 8-6 in the second half and took three corners to none for Notre Dame.
Six-year senior Ali Mims recorded seven saves in the game and kept FSU in the contest early on as Notre Dame found some success attacking. Mims came up with big save just 14 minutes before the end of the first half. The Seminoles played a ball back but a miscommunication allowed Notre Dame to win the ball deep in FSU territory. The Irish worked the ball to Courtney Rosen who fired a quick strike from the right side that was going near post to the upper corner but Mims punched the strike away.
Rosen did get Notre Dame on the board though in the 36th minute. The Seminole defense played a ball towards its own goal and the freshman out raced Libby Gianeskis to the loose ball. Rosen turned and fired in the right side of the goal putting Notre Dame in front 1-0.
Just three minutes later the Irish struck again. The second goal started with a corner kick from Hanks. The All-American played a ball in at the near post on to the head of Brittany Bock. Her header was redirected on to the goal and passed Mims by Jill Krivacek.
After Krikorian switched to a 4-4-2 formation with Trotter running up front coming out of half, the Seminoles came out with more aggressiveness in the attack and it almost produced an early result. Three minutes out of the lockerrom FSU had a good shot to half the Notre Dame lead. Selin Kuralay chipped a ball between the Notre Dame defense that Rowland ran on to. The senior took a touch and fired low to the backpost but wide of the frame.
FSU did get the lead down to a goal when two seniors combined to make it a 2-1 game in the 52nd minute. Rowland played a ball into the box to Trotter. The senior cut back and lost her defender. Trotter then fired to the far side netting for her eighth goal of the season and career leading eighth NCAA Tournament goal.
"I've actually played against Trotter before growing up when our regions teams played each other at a regional event," said Notre Dame defender Christine Shaner. "It doesn't surprise me I know she's very fast-paced. You have to know how to defend her and one of the things you can't let her do is you can't let her turn with the ball and run at you because you know you're going to get burnt. She's a very good player and I give credit to her. She broke us down a couple times but we stuck together and hung in there and defensively we got the job done."
The Seminoles continued to press and looked to have evened the game with 26 minutes to play. Sarah Wagenfuhr sent a free kick from midfield into the box. Kuralay, with her back to the goal, headed the service into the top corner of the net. Notre Dame keeper Lauren Karas got a piece of the shot that ricocheted off the underside of the crossbar and bounced out of bounds.
In the 72nd minute another header almost leveled the match. This time the play started with a corner kick that was cleared out. The ball was played back into the 18 to Rowland. The senior had a chance but just put the shot over the crossbar.
With 13:22 left Trotter and Rowland combined once again as Florida State pressured for that second goal. This time it was Trotter who played a diagonal ball into the box to a streaking Rowland. The ball arrived at Rowland's foot just as Karas charged the pass. Rowland got her foot on the ball but the keeper was there to smother the attempt.
With just two minutes left Rowland generated a final chance. The senior won a ball played forward by Iraia Iturregi. She won the ball, turned the corner and sent a ball back through the box from the endline where Mami Yamaguchi was waiting. The ball was just out of the reach of the midfielder.
"We're down 2-1, if we don't get a goal back the game's over," said Rowland. "We're fighting for our lives out there. I think we had chances and that's all you can ask for. It just wasn't our day finishing. We got chances when we needed them, with Notre Dame maybe they go in and maybe they don't. At the end of the day I thought we played well and I'm proud of our team."
"The last 20 minutes we were under a lot of pressure," said Shaner. "One of the things we talked about was just collectively getting organized and finding marks because there was a lot of space open in the midfield and players were kind of running free. We needed to organize better. I was telling them when it got down to 10 minutes, if worse comes to worse and you get the ball just get it out, just dump it in their end and we'll try to play in their end."
For FSU's five seniors that were a part of three College Cups, the ending was once again bitter but with an 11-3-2 record in the NCAA Tournament and 67 wins in four seasons, the class leaves FSU as the most successful group in program history and one of the most successful senior classes in the nation in 2006.
"It's very frustrating actually," said Trotter of how her career ended. "Having our team play well and not be successful and win the game is like coach says its how soccer goes. Credit to Notre Dame for protecting the lead. It's very frustrating being my senior year but I had a great four years and I couldn't ask to play with anyone else than who I played these last fours years and we had a good run.
"I hope we have laid a foundation. I hope that we're back each and every year. I hope that we set the cornerstone and the foundation for Florida State to win the National Championship."