Aug. 25, 2006
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The start of any collegiate soccer season is exciting but especially the last five years or so. Teams are stepping up and playing highly-ranked opponents on the opening weekend and it creates some fantastic match-ups to start the season. Just look at 2006. The first night of the season will feature a top 10 battle as North Carolina travels to Texas A&M. Highly-ranked Santa Clara will host a top 25 team in Wake Forest and defending National Champion Portland will be in Gainesville to face off with the Gators. Then just wait until Sunday. The marquee match-up will be in Tallahassee as the fourth-ranked Seminoles and top-ranked Pilots face-off. This will be just the second time the teams have met and it will be the only game opening weekend between two top five squads. This isn't just the top match because of rankings though. When FSU and Portland face off Sunday, it will mark just the third time since 1995 that two College Cup teams from the previous season will face off versus one another on an opening weekend. That was a very rare occurrence up until recently. From 1995-2000, now two College Cup teams had ever faced one another on opening weekend of the next season. It has now happened three times in the last six years. In 2001 UCLA and Portland opened the season facing each other. In 2005 it was Princeton versus UCLA and now this year Portland and Florida State hook up.
Florida State opens the 2006 campaign versus the defending National Champion Portland Pilots. This is the second time in school history that the Seminoles have started a season by playing a defending National Champion. The first time that happened was 1999, in Patrick Baker's first season as FSU head coach. The Seminoles traveled down the road to Gainesville to face the Gators. This year Portland will travel to Tallahassee. Florida State is just the fourth school ever to open two seasons by playing the reigning National Champions and one of just two schools to do it versus two different teams. The University of Maryland and Tulsa each opened back-to-back seasons versus North Carolina, who was the reigning champ in each of those matches. Tulsa faced UNC in 1990 and 1991. Maryland opened their season versus the Heels in 1993 and 1994. The only other school that has ever played two different National Champions in their opening game was Colorado. The Buffaloes opened the 1998 season versus North Carolina and the 2003 season versus Portland. This group, Tulsa, Maryland, Colorado and Florida State, are a combined 0-7 in games versus defending National Champions.
Playing The Champs - TWICE
Tulsa UNC (90) UNC (91)
Maryland UNC (93) UNC (94)
Colorado UNC (98) Portland (03)
Florida State Florida (99) Portland (06)
When the Seminoles open up the 2006 season, they will be playing a defending National Champion again! The game versus the Pilots will be the 13th in FSU's 12 season versus a reigning National Champion. FSU has played 11 games versus North Carolina when they were defending their crown and one game versus Florida when they were the reigning champs. FSU is 1-9-1 versus the Heels when they were the champs and 0-1 versus the Gators. That makes Florida State 1-10-1 all-time in program history versus defending national champions. The only win FSU ever recorded versus a reigning champ was in 2000 when FSU downed North Carolina in Tallahassee 3-2.
SERIES RECORD: Portland leads 1-0
AT NEUTRAL SITES: Portland leads 1-0
WIN STREAK: Portland leads 1-0
LAST MEETING: Port 3 FSU 1 (Winston Salem 2001)
Florida State and Portland have played just once and that game came at a tournament hosted by Wake Forest in 2001. The Seminoles and Deacons played against the best the WCC has to offer as the Pilots and Santa Clara came to town. Portland and FSU were even at 1-1 for more than 42 minutes but the Pilots got a late first half goal and then another in the 79th minute to defeat the Seminoles 3-1. UP entered that game ranked second in the nation while FSU was boasting a then-program high ranking of seventh. Christine Sinclair scored the game's first goal and just the second goal of her illustrious career which has seen her go on to score 104 more times since then. The Pilots dominated the game statistically. They out shot FSU 25-11 and had twice as many shots on goal as they put six on frame while FSU held the edge in corner kicks (4-3). Florida State is 1-2 all-time versus West Coast Conference squads. Their only win came last season against Loyola Marymount in double OT in California.
PRE-SEASON RANKINGS THROUGH THE YEARS
The 2006 Seminoles come into the season in uncharted territory. For the first time in school history, FSU will enter the season with their highest pre-season rankings ever from SoccerBuzz, Soccer America and the NSCAA. The Seminoles have received higher rankings from all three polls but never to start a season. That is quite a change from a year ago when Florida State entered the season unranked in all four polls but ended the year playing in the College Cup. FSU should be among the top 10 of the Soccer Times poll when it is released, making this the second time in three seasons that FSU will be a consensus pre-season top 10 squad. The last time that happened was following another College Cup season in 2004. After advancing to the 2003 College Cup, the Seminoles came into the year as a consensus top seven squad.
Year SoccerBuzz NSCAA Soccer Times Soccer America
2006 4 6 NP 4
2005 NR NR NR NR
2004 5 7 6 5
2003 12 15 15 13
2002 10 17 15 13
2001 13 16 16 12
2000 NR NR NR NR
NP=No Poll NR=Not Ranked
Florida State is not only picking up recognition as a team but also individual players are being honored at a record pace. The two players receiving the attention are forwards Selin Kuralay and India Trotter. Last season the forwards combined to score 29 of FSU's school-record 65 goals. The duo also tied for the team lead with nine assists a piece giving them 76 points on the year. The two had either the game-winning goal or assist in 16 games and it seems they caught the attention of the soccer world. Kuralay and Trotter have both been named to the 2006 M.A.C. Hermann Trophy watch list and both have also been named pre-season All-Americans by SoccerBuzz and Soccer America. This is the third consecutive season that FSU has had a player named to the Hermann watch list. In 2004 it was striker Leah Gallegos. Last season that honor went to defender Kelly Rowland. This is the first time though the Seminoles have placed multiple players on the list as FSU is one of just four schools (Portland, Notre Dame and UCLA) with more than one player up for the honor. Coming into the 2004 season, FSU had never placed a player on this prestigious list but now four Seminoles have earned that distinction in just the last three seasons. Trotter and Kuralay are just the second and third FSU players to ever be named a pre-season All-American by SoccerBuzz and the first Seminoles to ever receive that honor from Soccer America.
Florida State will open the 2006 season at home for the sixth time in the last seven years. In 12 seasons, this will be just the sixth time the Seminoles will open the season in Tallahassee. Overall, FSU is 3-1-1 when opening a season at home but just 1-1-1 in their last three. The squad tied Oregon State (0-0) in 2002, lost to USC (2-1) in 2003 and beat Arizona State (3-2) in 2004. FSU is 6-4-1 all-time in season openers and this is the fifth straight season the Seminoles have faced an opponent from the west on opening weekend. FSU has faced USC twice, Oregon State once and Arizona State once. In those four games the Seminoles have a 2-1-1 record Last season FSU opened the year on the road at USC but came home to defeat Jacksonville 7-0. In 11 seasons of soccer the Seminoles have an excellent 8-2-1 record in their first home game of the year whether it was played on opening day or not.
This will be the sixth time in the last eight seasons that FSU will open a campaign versus a ranked squad. In 1999 and 2000 FSU opened versus the Gators. In 2003 and 2005 the Seminoles opened versus USC and in 2004 versus Arizona State. FSU is 3-2 since 1999 when opening versus a ranked opponent and 2-1 at home in those games. Portland will be the highest-ranked team the Seminoles have ever faced in the first game of a season as the Pilots come into the game ranked as high as No. 1. The only other time FSU opened with a team ranked in the top five was 1999 when the Seminoles played another defending National Champion. That year FSU traveled to Gainesville to face the fourth-ranked Gators.
Head coach Mark Krikorian has a gaudy 11-1 record all-time in collegiate season openers. He never lost a season opener while he was the head coach at Franklin Pierce (6-0) and he went 4-1 in season openers in his time at Hartford. Last season he opened a lot of eyes as he led his new FSU team to a resounding 4-0 over 18th-ranked USC in Los Angeles. Krikorian has also never lost the first game of the season when played at home as a college coach going 7-0.
Year FSU Krikorian
2005 W 4-0 USC W 4-0 USC
2004 W 3-2 ASU NA
2003 L 2-1 USC NA
2002 T 0-0 Ore. St. NA
2001 W 3-2 GMU NA
2000 W 3-2 UF W 2-1 BC
1999 L 5-1 UF W 3-0 FAIR
1998 W 4-2 FUR W 5-0 CCSU
1997 L 2-1 WFU L 2-1 Rutgers
1996 W 4-1 UWF W 6-1 Siena
1995 L 4-0 UF
While a lot of focus will be on Tallahassee Sunday as two top five teams face off, astute observers know you can't really read too much into the early season match-up between the Pilots and Seminoles. Both teams will not have a full compliment of players at their disposal when they meet Sunday afternoon. Florida State will be missing two starters due to national team commitments and three other players who were expected to start or be big-time contributors. Sarah Wagenfuhr and India Trotter are both playing for the USA and Kirsten van de Ven, Melissa Samokishyn and Onnie Trusty are all still recovering from injuries. Portland won't be at full strength either. The Pilots will be without Stephanie Lopez who is playing with Wagenfuhr in Russia. Megan Rapinoe and Angie Woznuk are also in the national team pool and could be called in for the China game along with Trotter. While the game is the highlight of the weekend schedule, both team will look much different in October than when they meet August 27.
What a difference a year makes. Last season the Seminoles entered the year wondering where the goals were going to come form. In 2004 FSU scored the fewest goals in team history. In 20 games, FSU scored just 29 goals. To make matters even tougher of those 29 goals, players accounting for 20 of those goals were not on the Seminole roster in 2005 as FSU returned just nine goals from the 2004 season. This season FSU will return players that accounted for six-times as many goals as they did last year. Of the record 65 goals scored by Seminoles in 2005, players responsible for 56 of those goals are back in 2006. Florida State lost just nine goals from last year. Ironically the same number of goals scored by returning players the previous season. This is just the second time in school history that FSU will field a team that returns a group of players that accounted for 50 or more goals the previous season. The last time that happened was in 2004. The goal scorers aren't just back, so are the point producers. The Seminoles set a school record last year with 188 points. This season players who accounted for 77% (145) of those points are back in Garnet & Gold. FSU returns every offensive statistical leader from 2005's record-breaking season and for the first time ever FSU has two players back who scored double-digit goals the previous year (Selin Kuralay and India Trotter).
NO JUST RETURNING FIREPOWER
As good as it is to see so much of FSU's record-setting offense back in 2006, it is just as satisfying to see four of five starters back from the best defense in school history as well. Goalkeeper Ali Mims and defenders Kelly Rowland, Katrin Schmidt and Sarah Wagenfuhr are back in 2006. Those four defensive players combined to start 98 games last season. The Seminoles did lose a big piece in the back due to the graduation of four-year starter Teresa Rivera but the most successful group in team history has to feel good about what they have back. Last season's team set the single season record for shutouts (11), had the first sub-1.00 GAA (0.86) in program history and allowed the fewest goals ever in ACC play (10) despite playing one more game. The group also just missed setting the record for fewest goals allowed as they gave up 22. That just missed the record of 21 set in 2004 but that was established in five fewer matches.
ACC PRESEASON POLL
The 2005 Seminoles were the surprise of the ACC last season. After a second place finish in the conference, a trip to the College Cup and a top five national ranking, Florida State won't surprise anybody in or out of the ACC in 2006. With nine starters from the 2005 team back this season, expectations are already high for the squad. When this new group of Seminoles take the field versus No. 1 Portland Sunday they will be shouldering a predicted second-place finish in the conference. Florida State was tabbed to finish just behind North Carolina in the 2006 ACC Coaches Preseason Poll. This is the second time in the last three years FSU has been picked to finish second in the nation's best soccer conference.
Florida State and North Carolina were the only teams to receive first place votes in the poll as UNC was picked by eight coaches to finish first and FSU by three others to win the league. This is the first time in school history that Florida State ever received a first place vote in a preseason conference poll. The Seminoles and Tar Heels were also the only two schools to crack the 100-point mark in the preseason poll as well. It is quite a change from 2005 when FSU was tabbed sixth by the coaches and then finished the year tied for second with Virginia. The Seminoles were the only team to finish even two spots higher than they were predicted and the only team to be in the top eight of the preseason poll who finished higher than expected. Florida State won't have the luxury of finishing more than a spot higher this year but if the Seminoles do improve on that prediction it will mean they will have brought home the school's first ever ACC Championship.
2006 Preseason ACC Women's Soccer Poll
School Points 2005 Record
1. North Carolina (8) 118 23-1-1 (9-1-0)
2. Florida State (3) 104 20-4-1 (8-2-0)
3. Virginia 97 18-6-1 (8-2-0)
4. Duke 91 14-6-1 (6-4-0)
5. Boston College 73 13-6-2 (5-4-1)
6. Wake Forest 63 9-9-1 (4-6-0)
7. Clemson 55 9-9-2 (4-5-1)
8. Maryland 47 5-11-3 (3-5-2)
9. NC State 28 6-12-0 (2-8-0)
10. Miami 26 8-11-1 (2-8-0)
11. Virginia Tech 24 6-10-3 (1-7-2)
ROWLAND'S CAREER NUMBERS AND STARTS
When Kelly Rowland came to Florida State in 2003 there was a lot expected of her but you never know how things will turn out. Many highly recruited high schoolers never achieve the success at the next level. That hasn't been the case for the Florida State senior captain. Rowland has started all 71 games in her illustrious career, which is the longest consecutive starts streak in team history. She has started every FSU game since stepping foot on campus and has been in the center of the three best statistical defenses in program history. Rowland hasn't done it all alone but it isn't a coincidence either that the best defenses in school history have been with Rowland playing in the middle. Before she arrived at FSU, the Seminoles had never allowed less than 30 goals in a season. Since Rowland's arrival FSU has never allowed more than 28 goals. For three straight seasons FSU has posted a lower GAA each year and all three GAA's since Rowland has been at FSU have been record-setting. The Seminoles have posted a record number of shutouts each year she has been on campus as well. The Seminoles have shutout 29 opponents in Rowland's three seasons compared to 38 in the previous seven seasons combined.
Rowland isn't just the heart and soul of the FSU defense. She is the greatest attacking defender ever to wear the Garnet & Gold as well. With her goal versus Cal in the 2005 NCAA Quarterfinals, Rowland set another offensive record for a back. Rowland has 12 goals and 15 assists in her career making her the first defender ever at FSU to record double-digit goals and assists and she is all alone in first in all three offensive categories. Her goal bumped her career point total to 39, which was already a school record for a defender. She is also the program's most decorated player. Rowland has been honored as a member of Soccer America's National Team of the Week a school record eight times in her three-year career. No other FSU player has ever received the award even three times. With those eight weekly honors, Rowland has been named to a national team of the week 10 times in her career making her the only Seminole ever to reach double digits in weekly national awards. No other FSU player even has five career national weekly honors. With a full year still remaining, Rowland could establish a set of records and streaks that may never be broken by another Seminole back.
Ali Mims' remarkable career will add its sixth and final chapter this season. The redshirt-senior from Ponte Vedra Beach, FL has undergone more than 20 surgical procedures and missed almost three years of action due to a broken tibia but she is back again as FSU's starter in 2006 after nothing less than a miraculous return to fulltime duty in 2005. With her shutout of FAU in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, Mims set a new Seminole record for single season shutouts with her eighth of the year breaking a nine year old record. She surpassed the 7.5 recorded by Melissa Juhl in 1996. Mims is now threatening the career record held by Juhl and Joy McKenzie, which stands at 13. Mims also set the single season GAA record. Her 0.90 GAA is just edged out the record set by McKenzie in 2003 when she posted a GAA of 0.92. Mims joined McKenzie as only the second FSU keeper to ever record a sub-1.00 GAA for a season. Mims' career GAA is now at 1.11 and currently 0.05 behind the career record held by McKenzie as well. Mims has already passed McKenzie in one other very important category. With the win over Cal, Mims is now the winningest keeper in Seminole history. The junior goalie has 27 career victories, which is first all time. When she takes the field versus Portland Sunday, Mims will become just the second FSU keeper ever to start a match in four seasons as a Seminole.
Developing a consistency among the starting 11 was a huge bonus for last year's Seminoles but getting that starting group on the field for a majority of the season is never easy. In 2004 Florida State came into the season with 10 of 11 starters returning from a team that advanced to the College Cup. It seemed like there would be more consistency in the 2004 line-up than any year before but injuries hit and FSU ended up starting 16 different line-ups in 20 games. Considering that team had the best regular season in school history at the time is amazing with all that shuffling. Coming into 2005, FSU brought in nine newcomers and returned just four starters from the previous year yet nine players started 19 or more games at the same position in 2005. Of those nine players, seven of them are back in 2006. With injuries and National Team commitments, it may not be possible for FSU to have as much consistency as 2005 but the 2006 squad is a much more veteran group. Eight returning FSU starters combined to start 186 matches last season and there will probably be just one freshman starter for FSU this year. Last season the Seminoles had five new starters on the field opening day and the other six starters had a combined 74 starts the previous season.