Oct. 6, 2003
Tallahassee, FL - For the third time in less than a week, the 22nd ranked FSU soccer team (6-5-0, 1-1-0) will head out onto the road. The team is heading to Orlando to take on a hot Golden Knight (9-3-0) squad that has won five straight games after a 4-3-0 start. The game is slated for a 7:00 p.m. kick-off Tuesday, October 7 at the UCF Soccer Field.
The Knights are currently ranked tenth in the latest SoccerBuzz regional rankings, just three spots behind Florida State. This will be the Seminoles' seventh game this year versus a team that played in the 2002 NCAA Tournament and Tuesday's game will be huge for both sides.
"Just like South Florida last week, this is a huge in-state game for us," said head coach Patrick Baker. "UCF is having a very good year. They lost to Kansas and we lost to Kansas. They lost to Florida and we lost to Florida. They beat SDSU and USF and we beat both of those teams as well. A lot of their wins and losses mirror ours. This game is a must-win for us. It is a must-win. We always go into the game with that mentality but the prospect of going to 6-6 isn't good. We need to get separation from the .500 mark and it isn't going to be easy."
"This is another game versus an NCAA Tournament team for us but I am excited," said striker Leah Gallegos. "I look forward to playing good teams. I like the challenge and knowing we are going to have to work hard to beat a team. We will have to do that to get a result versus UCF."
Florida State has won three straight versus the Golden Knights by a combined score of 11-2 and the last time FSU traveled to Orlando, they beat UCF 5-0. Florida State is also 22-2-0 versus in-state teams since 2000 with the only losses coming to Florida. But after suffering a heartbreaking, last second loss to No. 4 Virginia Saturday night and having to turn around three days later for a difficult road game, will FSU be mentally and physically prepared for Tuesday night's match?
"Even today we were a little tired after a tough, emotional, physically draining game against Virginia," said Baker. "It is kind of a double edged sword. Do we need time to recover or do we want to step right back onto the field? I think with our group, the best thing will be to get back out and compete in another game."
"It is tough to play a mid-week game because you miss some school and get caught behind, which can distract you mentally," said Gallegos. "It is also exhausting because this is our third straight road game and our sleeping is all off kilter. We will have to stay focused if we want to compete with a good UCF team."
The loss to Virginia was still fresh on the Tribe's minds at practice Monday afternoon. The Seminoles were leading the Cavaliers with just 5:00 remaining and were 300 seconds away from the biggest regular season road win in school history before letting UVa back into the game. Despite the tough loss, many of FSU's players were encouraged by the showing versus the best team they have played all year in a hostile environment.
"This team should feel confident after their performance Saturday," said Baker. "I was just watching the tape and we let one slip away. We let a great win on the road slip through our fingertips. It is disappointing but the positives are there. The positives are that we are a very good team. We can go and play a team that is playing exceptional soccer like Virginia and hold our own. We have to carry that forward. We have to respond to the positives in that game. We have to try and recreate that level of soccer again versus a very good UCF team."
"I thought the Virginia game was good for us," said Gallegos. "They are an amazing team but so are we. We lost and we are disappointed but we saw how good we really are and we want to go out and prove to ourselves we can perform like that again."
The Seminoles will head to UCF relying on an offense that scored the most goals Virginia has allowed in 2003 in a single game and that is producing goals at a rate of 3.6 per game over the last six matches. Part of the reason for the offensive turnaround has been junior Camie Bybee. The attacking midfielder has five goals and three assists in that six-game span. Her five goals lead the team during that stretch and her 13 points are tied for first. FSU is also 5-1-0 during those games.
"That game (Virginia) continued to give our offense confidence," said Bybee. "To score a couple of goals and produce some other great chances versus the fourth-ranked team in the country shows we can play with anybody. We were able to get behind them on a number of occasions so we feel good about the effort.
"Personally, I feel good. I have finally started to step up a little bit and am happy I can contribute to our team's success. Whether I score or record an assist, I just hope to play consistently against UCF and as we get deeper into conference play."
For all the latest information on the Florida State soccer team or any of FSU's sports, please log on to the official athletic site for Florida State University at www.seminoles.com.