Nov. 12, 2009
By Amy Farnum
It's no secret that Florida State has been one of the toughest teams in women's soccer over the past several seasons, but now the Seminoles have climbed one step higher on the national scene as they were selected as one of four No. 1 national seeds for the first time in school history.
The Seminoles' success this can be attributed to many factors, but the productive combination of forwards Tiffany McCarty and Jessica Price has served as an integral part of the team's winning equation.
McCarty and Price are responsible for 72 (28 goals, 16 assists) of FSU's 176 total points this year, accounting for more than 40 percent of the team's scoring. McCarty, a sophomore from Laurel, Md., leads the Atlantic Coast Conference with 1.81 points per game, while Price, a redshirt sophomore from Libertyville, Ill., follows with 1.62 points per game.
One of the pair has recorded a point in 15 of 21 games this season, and in eight games both players have netted a goal. Seven times this year, McCarty and Price have combined to score a goal. McCarty has assisted on a Price goal five times, while Price has found McCarty twice.
"We're good friends," said Price. "We get how each other work. We know each other pretty well, so I guess that makes it easier on the field knowing where she wants the ball. Sometimes, I know where she's moving without having to look at her."
Although McCarty burst on the scene last year, contributing 28 points and earning ACC Freshman of the Year honors, it took Price a little time to catch up after undergoing knee surgery in 2007. Price did play in all 22 games and tallied three goals and six assists in 2008, but she is having a breakout year with 12 goals and 10 assists in 2009 - only the second player in school history to register double-digit goals and assists in a season.
"They say you don't fully recover for at least two years after surgery and I think it definitely took the full amount of time to get back to where I was before," said Price. "I had to do a lot of hard work this summer to improve my fitness level so I could help the team out."
Fending off a sophomore slump, McCarty continued to flourish as she finished the regular season leading the ACC with 36 points and 15 goals, garnering ACC Offensive Player of the Year honors. However, McCarty is quick to credit her teammates for the squad's success.
"Our team helps us link up with other people and they can score, and they know when we get the ball we're going to score," said McCarty. "We have had a lot of games where multiple people have scored."
"I think we have a lot of different strengths," said Price. "Everyone brings different elements to the game. Our team chemistry has been really good this year. We complement each other and know each other's strengths and weaknesses and try to optimize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses."
After claiming a share of the ACC regular season title for the first time in school history, Florida State (16-4-1) is making its 10th straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Seminoles will host the first and second rounds for the sixth time in program history and will be looking to improve on their perfect 15-0-0 mark in NCAA Tournament play at home.
"It's definitely exciting for us," said Price. "It says a lot about our coaching staff and how hard we worked this season. It's exciting for us to play at home with all of our friends and family watching us."
McCarty says the team is focused on a better outcome than exiting with a loss to national runner-up Notre Dame in the NCAA quarterfinals, and earning the No. 1 seed this week has them pointed in the right direction. As a top seed, the Seminoles will own home field advantage in the first four rounds of the tournament if they advance.
"I think for the players that were here last year it was a little disappointing to end up where we did last year," said McCarty. "We decided we wanted to do something big this year. There's been a lot success with our program in the past few years, but we are really excited to try to get back to the College Cup and win a national championship."
The Seminoles will open the tournament on Nov. 13 at 4:30 p.m., against Southeastern Louisiana (13-4-2). Auburn (10-8-3) and California (10-8-1) will play in the second contest on Friday at 7 p.m. The winners will face each other on Nov. 15 at 1 p.m.