Oct. 10, 2003
Tallahassee FL - Friday night has been magical at the Seminole Soccer Complex since head coach Patrick Baker came to Tallahassee. Since 1999, FSU has gone 14-1-3 with victories over five ranked teams. You can make it six now.
The Tribe's magic continued Friday night as they raced past No. 12 Duke (8-4-1, 1-2-0) 3-0 in front of 1,046 fans, the ninth-largest attendance ever. Florida State recorded just the school's second-ever shutout in ACC play and defeated Duke for the second consecutive time in Tallahassee. The Seminoles, behind two Leah Gallegos goals and Joy McKenzie's first ever shutout in ACC play, moved to 8-5-0 and 2-1-0 in the conference.
"I am very excited for our players. I am very excited for our program," said Baker. "This was a big game against a big opponent and it was another typical night in the ACC. They had great chances and we had great chances. I think Robbie (Duke head coach Robbie Church) said it best at the end. We stuck our chances in the box and they didn't. That was what it boiled down to."
"Theses games have always been close but we wanted to protect our home field tonight and coach Baker had the two most motivational speeches I have ever heard. We got so fired up," said Amber Tollefson. "It wasn't the prettiest soccer on our part but we fought to the end. That was what I hoped would happen tonight. We played for each other and you see the result."
The 3-0 win marked the largest margin of victory ever for FSU versus an ACC team in a game played in Tallahassee and was also the Tribe's first ever home shutout in an ACC game. After never winning back-to-back ACC games in Tallahassee versus a single opponent, the Tribe has now done that twice this year. They beat Maryland at home in 2001 and 2003 and now they have beaten Duke in consecutive trips to Tallahassee. Florida State scored three goals in both of those games, a 3-2 win and Friday's 3-0 victory.
"As a freshman, I don't think I can appreciate this as much as the upper classmen who have only beaten Duke once in their careers," said forward Julia Schnugg. "It was so exciting to be a part of this especially as convincing as a result as it was."
"I thought the game would be one goal either way. I didn't think we could put three goals past Helgadottir again like we did in 2001," said Baker. "You have to give our group credit because they managed to do it again."
Gallegos was one of FSU's stars on the night as she recorded her third multi-goal game of the year and the fourth of her career. Her two goals gave her 10 on the season and she is now just the sixth FSU player to ever record a 10 goal campaign. The sophomore also moved into second place all-time on the career ACC goals list with six.
"Leah is a special player, not only with her skill but her composure and finishing ability," said Baker. "She showed that against UCF and she showed it again tonight."
"The whole team played so well offensively tonight," said Gallegos. "Every opportunity we had to push up we did. And when we had a chance we did something with it. Ultimately, you have to give credit to our defense though for the shutout. When you hold a team as good as that scoreless, one goal is all you need."
The shutout was FSU's second in a row, just the seventh time that has ever happened, and FSU has now shutout three of the last four opponents, a feat that hasn't been accomplished since 1996. Since giving up six goals in the first three games, the Tribe back line and keepers have allowed just eight goals in the past 10 games.
"Things have just come together for us defensively and I would be lying if I said I know why," said McKenzie. "The effort was always there but everyone from the forwards to the back four has just stepped it up. There has been a bigger emphasis on defending and it has shown."
"The defense was awesome. To shutout the nation's 24th-ranked offense is amazing," said Tollefson. "It was special tonight. We were fired up and got it done."
The night was probably most special for McKenzie. The Houston, TX native had never started a collegiate game in two years before the 2003 season. After the Duke victory, she now has a 6-3-0 record, has posted the first two shutouts of her career and is currently the owner of the second-lowest single season GAA in school history at 1.13.
"This was so exciting, there are really no words to describe it," said McKenzie. "This was a huge adrenaline rush tonight. The whole game was nerve racking, fun, scary and exciting. All wrapped into one."
"Joy was awesome tonight," said Rowland. "The saves she made on the break away and on (Kate) Seibert's header were amazing. She was so impressive."
This victory was FSU's seventh win in eight games after a 1-4-0 start. The Tribe has defeated three ranked teams in that span and they are off to their second-best ACC start in team history at 2-1.
"We hit rock bottom at 1-4 out at Kansas," said Baker. "We were searching for a lot of different things. This is a good soccer team. We played great opponents early but didn't get results. Since that point we have played well, been a little fortunate and bent but not broken defensively."
"We have persevered. We started slow and have just exploded. We are on the rise," said Tollefson. "We know how important ACC play is and we can't help but get even more motivated when we play in front of crowds like we had tonight. Everyone is this team is such a hard worker and we work hard for one another."
For the first time in three meetings FSU scored the first goal of the night but that was in large part due to McKenzie. In the 30th minute Carolyn Riggs was played a diagonal ball in between the FSU defense. The sophomore got in alone with McKenzie who charged the breakaway and made a huge sliding save at the feet of the Indiana native.
"The ball was slotted through and I saw her coming in," said McKenzie. "I just went out for it and tried to make a play and was fortunate to make the save."
That opened the door for Gallegos just over eight minutes later. As Duke was playing the ball out of the back, she took advantage of a pass that came a little too close to the sophomore. The Los Angeles, CA native got a touch and headed the other way. She was in alone with Helgadottir and beat her to the far post.
"They were trying to bring the ball out of the back and the pass was a little off," said Gallegos. "I stretched as far as I could and got a touch in. I was able to dribble past the defender. I wasn't entirely sure where I was on the field but I took the shot and luckily it went in."
With the Blue Devils attacking to get the equalizer, Seminole standout defender Katie Beal was injured on a tackle just outside the FSU 18 yard box. The junior was down for over 3:00 and had to leave the field for medical attention. Baker rolled the dice in the hopes Beal would be able to return and he played a man down so he wouldn't lose his star central defender in a one-goal game. The Devils furiously attacked and ended up with a shot and three corners before Beal returned but no goals.
"We stuck together tonight as a defense. After Beal went down we got even closer and more determined. We are a resilient group and we showed that tonight," said Rowland.
"Tonight was a gut check," said Baker. "By no means did we play our best soccer but to find ways to be successful, says a lot."
With only 10 players on the pitch, Duke's best chance came in the 75th minute off a Seibert header just a few yards away from the Seminole goal. The sophomore blasted a header shot that looked like it was going to sneak in but a diving McKenzie once again came up huge.
"She was staked out at the near post and I saw her head it," said McKenzie. "I got a hand on it and was lucky to get enough of it to send it around the post."
Inspired by the defense's performance playing a man down and McKenzie's big save, Florida State regained its composure and built on its lead just three minutes later. The goal began with a long free kick in FSU's defensive third by Teresa Rivera. The sophomore's kick found Schnugg at the top of the 18. She flicked the ball on to Gallegos scored what can only be categorized as an ESPN Top 10 play-type of goal.
After Schnugg's flick on, the sophomore dipped inside the defender bringing the Blue Devil with her but allowed the ball to sail over her outside shoulder. She turned to free herself and ran onto the ball. She then chipped it over the next defender who was rushing at her. Helgadottir took off and came at Gallegos who then headed the chipped ball around the keeper as she ran on to the self pass and volleyed it into an empty net.
"T (Teresa Rivera) sent a well-driven ball into Julia (Schnugg). She flicked it on right to me," said Gallegos. "There was a defender in front of me and I chipped it over her. The goalie came out and I headed it past her and was able to put it in."
Gallegos has now scored in seven games this year and her 10 goals have all come in the Tribe's last 10 outings. She is already in third place for career goals after just a season and a half at FSU and Gallegos' 42 career points are the fifth-most in program history. After tying the seven goals she scored her freshman year in a two-goal performance versus USF earlier this year, she has now equaled the 21 points she tallied her entire freshman season.
"I never knew that, wow," said Gallegos. "I never expected to come into a college environment and break records or surpass the accomplishments of the great players that were here before me. It feels great to be able to do that but it feels even better to be part of such an amazing team. For me I just want to be a part of helping this team win and if I can do that it feels great."
After giving up two goals in the final 5:00 in a one-goal loss to Virginia, some of the FSU players questioned whether they let up offensively with a one-goal lead in that game. They seemed to take that lesson to heart as the Tribe continued to press the Duke defense and fellow Californian Schnugg finished off any hopes the Blue Devils had of a comeback in the 83rd minute.
The play was made by the tenacious work of senior Tollefson. The Boca Raton, FL native got end line but had her service blocked. She chased the ball into the box where Helgadottir was charging. Tollefson continued to chip at the ball until she pried it away from the Icelandic National Team keeper and got it to Schnugg. The freshman then pounded it into the net.
"Amber (Tollefson) took it up the left side, got end line and sent in a cross. It was deflected and she tracked it down, worked hard and got stuck in with the goalie. She somehow pried it away from Helgadottir and got it in to me," said Schnugg. "I just ripped the shot and hoped it would go in."
On top of the play of McKenzie, the FSU defense and Schnugg and Gallegos up top, India Trotter and Camie Bybee were instrumental to the win in the midfield. In what Baker deemed the most important battle coming into the game, Trotter and Bybee won hands down.
"The defense didn't break at all tonight and Camie and India won the battles in the midfield," said Tollefson. "What else can you ask for?"
One thing Baker asked was for Trotter to shut down Casey McCluskey. The All-ACC midfielder came in to the game owning all three goals the Devils had scored versus FSU since she arrived in Durham, NC in 2001. The former ACC Rookie of the Year had torched the Seminoles in the past but was dogged by Bybee and Trotter all night long and limited to just one shot.
"The match-up between (Casey) McCluskey and India (Trotter) was huge. We all told India before the game that if Casey gets face to face with you, you're done," said fellow midfielder Jez Ratliff. "India did a great job not letting her turn all night. She did a great job."
"McCluskey is such an amazing player. I just tried to force her back tonight and keep her from facing up. When she gets faced up, there isn't anything she can't do with the ball," said Trotter. "I wanted to get behind her and try to keep pushing her in the other direction. It is an awesome feeling to know I contributed to a big win for our team. For me to do my best to limit a player like McCluskey and help us get that win in whatever small role I played is great."
The Tribe will look to keep rolling as they go on the road for the fourth time in the last five games. Florida State will continue ACC play in Clemson, SC Tuesday, October 14 at 7:00 p.m. The Tribe has won back-to-back ACC games versus the Tigers and will be looking for their second straight conference victory at Riggs Field. The Tigers fell 2-1 at Maryland Friday night and are now 7-3-2 and 1-1-0 in the conference.
"We have picked up a couple of shutouts and we are gaining confidence across the board," said Baker. "That is all adding up to a lot of good things."
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