Oct. 14, 2003
Clemson, SC - Another ACC game and another first for the 11th-ranked Florida State soccer team. The Tribe shutout the Clemson Tigers (7-4-2, 1-2-0) 1-0 Tuesday night in South Carolina marking the first time ever the Seminoles have posted back-to-back ACC shutouts. The shutout was also the third straight for Florida State (9-5-0, 3-1-0), which ties a school record set twice in 1997 and 1999. The Seminoles also tied the record for the best start in team history set in 2001.
The only goal of the game was scored by defender Kristin Boyce who knocked in a rebound off a Jez Ratliff shot that bounced off the crossbar. It was the co-captain's second-ever ACC game-winning goal. For the match the Tigers held a slight edge in shots (15 to 12) and corners (3 to 2) but they couldn't break through against a Seminole defense that has allowed just three goals in the last five matches.
"We are very fortunate to have won tonight," said head coach Patrick Baker. "Clemson played very well and they were terrific in possession. I felt like we chased them and the ball all night. Somehow we manufactured a goal and made it stand up for us - soccer is an interesting game at times."
"It was great to get back-to-back shutouts in ACC play," said Boyce. "They had good chances but luckily for us they didn't go into the back of the net. It is hard to dig yourself out of a hole on the road in this conference. We are just glad it didn't come to that."
The win was the eighth victory in nine games for FSU, which started the season at 1-4-0. The Seminoles are now in the midst of the most successful stretch in program history. Only the 2000 squad that went 7-1-1 came close to matching this squad's 8-1-0 mark over the last nine games.
"The ladies are working hard and getting results - somehow, some way," said Baker. "Early in the year we played well, but couldn't get a result to save our lives. Since Kansas, we have pretty much been in a must win situation every time out. I'm trying to stay out of their way and not screw anything up."
With the 1-0 win over Clemson, Seminole keeper Joy McKenzie (7-3-0, 3-0-0) became the first goalie in team history to post two ACC shutouts and back-to-back conference shutouts in a season. She is currently in the midst of a 265:22 shutout streak in ACC play and an overall shutout streak that reached 400:22 tonight.
"I have an awesome defense in front of me," said McKenzie. "It is a great accomplishment that I may get credit for but it is a team accomplishment. Shutouts should go to a defense and not a keeper. Every player from our forwards to the midfielders and our backs deserves the credit."
"Tonight's shutout isn't just a credit to our defense, it is a credit to our entire team," said right back Marion Cagle. "It all starts with our forwards and then we defend back. Overall we all worked together defensively tonight and it wasn't always pretty but the result was what we wanted."
McKenzie entered the season having never started a match at FSU and only appearing in seven games in her two seasons in Tallahassee. She won the starting job when she was the only keeper to play in the spring as starters Kerry York and Ali Mims rehabbed from injuries. She didn't allow a single goal in 625:00 during the spring and since allowing six goals in her first three starts, McKenzie has allowed just four goals in her last eight appearances covering over 635 minutes. She has seen her GAA drop from 2.15 to an FSU record low 1.01.
"I feel more confidence than I did at the start of the season," said McKenzie. "There are always nerves at the start of an ACC game because they are such big games but it goes away after a few minutes. I try to keep the mindset that if a team scores on me they have earned it because I have done everything I could to keep it out of the net."
"I think the reason for the three straight shutouts is a credit to our great goalkeeping," said Cagle. "It is always a question of how many big saves is our goalkeeper going to have to make to get a shutout and Joy has played exceptionally well."
McKenzie and the defense have been spectacular as of late. After giving up 10 goals in the first five games of the season, the Tribe has allowed just seven in the last 10 games. The only time the defense has allowed more than one goal in a game since September 13 was in a 3-2 loss to No. 4 Virginia. In that game the Tribe defense held the Cavs to just one goal for 85:00 before allowing two with just 5:00 left in regulation.
"We struggled at the start of the season giving up so many goals," said Boyce. "Lately it has been difficult to get goals against us in the run of play. We have also done a better job of defending set pieces. I think we did some things in the Virginia game that opened our eyes to where we needed to improve. It is good to see the defense is stepping up and taking responsibility for protecting our net."
"We worked so hard on defending in the spring, that I felt that would be a strength for our team early on this year," said Baker. "Unfortunately, we struggled with the new system and were averaging roughly two goals against per game. Moving Kelly Rowland centrally and utilizing Cagle wide has made a huge difference. Now that we have put some wins and shutouts together with consistency - the defense is really becoming a strength and that's exciting to see."
The win was just Florida State's fifth-ever on the road in conference play. Four of those victories have come since 2000 and two have come at Clemson's Riggs Field. This is FSU's third straight regular season win against the Tigers matching a record set earlier this year against Maryland. It is also the first time ever FSU has won back-to-back conference games at an opponent's field.
"We talked about needing one or two big wins on the road and I think anytime you beat a team as good as Clemson at Riggs Field it counts as a big win," said Amber Tollefson. "We didn't play pretty soccer tonight but we found a way to win. Jez (Ratliff) and (Kristin) Boyce came through and we got that big road victory we were looking for."
"The result tonight means a lot for us and we take a lot from the game," said Baker. "We talked about protecting home field this year in conference play and trying to get a result on the road, we were lucky to get one tonight."
Much of Tuesday night's game was played in the midfield. With both teams starting out in a 4-4-2, there was some key individual battles that helped FSU come away with the win. Baker singled out freshman Rachel McDowell who came off the bench and provided a spark for the Tribe.
"I don't think I really contributed that much to our success. I got in the game when Clemson was a little fatigued so I brought some energy to the midfield," said McDowell. "I was able to track back on defense and think if I made a positive influence on the game it was just because I had some energy.
"I think there were a lot of individual battles going on in the midfield tonight. Playing together and for each other was a key. Camie (Bybee) did a great job winning head balls and so did India (Trotter)."
McDowell's energy seemed to energize the Seminole attack. She entered the game with just over 15:00 remaining in regulation time and Florida State began to turn up the heat on the Clemson defense.
As the Tribe attacked up the left flank, the Tigers pulled down wide midfielder Jez Ratliff about 35 yards from goal on the left side and almost right on the sideline. Katie Beal, who has scored four goals off free kicks already this year, sent an amazing strike that bent to the far post and was heading into the upper corner before catching the crossbar and bouncing out.
The FSU frenzy in front of the goal continued as Leah Gallegos was wide on a shot and less then a minute later FSU produced the game's lone goal. The play started with Boyce and Ratliff playing a give and go at the top of the box. That freed Ratliff to dribble to the top of the Clemson penalty box and rip a shot off the crossbar, the second FSU shot to bounce of the Clemson crossbar within a minute. The ball caromed off the iron and right to Boyce. The senior touched the ball in from about five yards out.
"Boyce made a great run and we kind of crossed over," said Ratliff. "I went to the left and she went to the right. I got off a shot that hit the crossbar and she was in great position to finish if off."
"I made a run up field and saw Jez (Ratliff)," said Boyce. "She ripped a great shot that hit the bar. Luckily I was hanging out in front of the goal and watched it hit the crossbar. It came right to me and I finished it. I didn't make a special effort to get involved offensively. I just went when I thought it was on and it paid off in that instance."
The goal was Boyce's second in the last three games and third of the season. It was the senior's third career game-winning goal and her first in a conference match since she scored the game-winner in overtime versus North Carolina in 2000.
"I think it just feels better to win then get that goal," said Boyce. "We didn't play up to our standards but we were able to pull out a victory and that was the most important thing."
Florida State next travels to Winston-Salem, NC this Saturday, October 18 to face Wake Forest. The 12th-ranked Demon Deacons lost to North Carolina Tuesday night and are currently 9-3-2 overall and 1-2-0 in the conference. The FSU/Wake game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. start.
For all the latest news on Seminole soccer please log on to the official athletic site for the Florida State University Department of Athletics at www.seminoles.com.