April 9, 2008
Seminoles counting on hard work for an ideal outcome
Following the most successful season in school history with a run to the 2007 National Championship game this past fall, the Florida State women's soccer team began offseason workouts back in January. While making four College Cup appearances in the last five years is a major accomplishment for any school, the Seminole team knows there is still a lot of work to do to reach their ultimate goal: winning a National Championship.
The hard-working Seminoles seem to agree that they are willing to do whatever it takes to grasp the national title and they are taking their spring training seriously.
"We are working more on individualized things and rebuilding and strengthening our bodies so we can become better players," explains freshman goalkeeper Erin McNulty. "The spring is more intense but more flexible with the types of workouts you do. The fall was more focused on game results, where spring is more about fixing the little things so we do even better next fall."
Redshirt freshman Jessica Price adds, "Right now we are working hard to improve our fitness levels. We have been participating in both team and individual training sessions throughout the spring."
The Seminoles meet five days a week for practice, three days a week for strength and conditioning, one or two days a week for an individual session and have five spring competitions scheduled.
"The focus for this spring was to look at the overall strength gains of each individual player," said soccer strength and conditioning coach Dwan Riggins. "There were a lot of girls who had issues with strength back in January, so our major focus this spring was to build on their overall strength and speed and teaching them how to move correctly.
Four of the five games have already been played with the Seminoles posting a 2-1-1 record during the exhibition season. The Seminoles kicked off their spring season with a scoreless tie against Georgia in Athens. The Seminoles next went down to Auburn and then hosted intra-state rival Florida defeating both schools by a score of 2-0. The Garnet and Gold suffered their first loss of the spring at the hands of Brigham Young at the Seminole Soccer Complex. Florida State will wrap-up its spring season in Melbourne, Fla., against UCF.
"We had a great spring," added Riggins. "The team came in and the numbers shot up with performances in squats and bench press. I feel their overall strength has been much better and we are beginning to see some gains in their speed."
Making an impact
Two 2008 signees, Ella Stephan and Julie Lancos, who each graduated high school early and joined the team this spring, have already began to add to the team's depth. Both newcomers have made major contributions to the team this spring and will play a major role in the future success of the Seminole soccer program.
"They are very good players and they help keep the intensity high and compete and make other players better," brags McNulty.
"Both girls bring in new personalities and different styles of play to the team," Price stated.
Lancos, a New Jersey native, was named a 2007 Parade All-American and was featured in the January 14, 2008 Sports Illustrated edition of Faces in the Crowd.
Stephan, who has been in and out this season with U-20 National team duty, earned NSCAA High School All-America honors in 2007 and garnered NSCAA Youth All-American accolades in 2006 and 2007.
With numerous players coming and going due to National team events, the Seminoles are forced to work in small numbers. This is another obstacle that does not seem to concern the Noles'.
"We try to remain open minded and accept everyone and get to know everyone. When people leave for national events, others are expected to step up to the plate," Price said.
"The players that are not leaving are bringing and keeping a high level regardless of who is in or out of town," states Lauren Switzer, a sophomore midfielder.
While most people are catching rays and hitting the beach during their summer break, members of the Seminole soccer team will be working hard to ensure another successful fall season and the hopes of returning to the College Cup. Each player will be given the option of playing for a W-league team in various areas all over the United States. Players will also have the opportunity to journey overseas and capture soccer knowledge from around the world.
"I plan on going to play on a W-league team this summer. A lot of girls are doing the same and some are playing with their club teams and others are taking classes," proclaims sophomore forward Annie Stalzer.
"Once they leave for the summer, their focus is going to be on maintaining what they were working on in the spring," explained Riggins. "One of the things we are going to give them this summer is protocols for the Yo-Yo and 300 yard shuttle tests that they need to be prepared for when they return to campus in the fall. The protocols show exactly how to set the test up so when they come back from their summer break they are fully aware of the level they need to be at."
Although the team will be sent in many different directions, they will all gain solid soccer experience. These experiences that they bring back will hopefully give them the ability to capture their dream of winning a National Title.