Nov. 24, 2006
Tallahassee, FL - Just seven seasons ago Florida State soccer played the first NCAA Tournament game in school history. Seven years later the Seminoles are headed to the College Cup for the third time. Florida State rallied from a 1-0 halftime deficit to score two second half goals and punch the team's ticket to a second straight College Cup. The Seminoles (18-3-4) downed ACC rival Clemson (11-8-5) by a 2-1 score as freshman Becky Edwards recorded the first goal of her career, which sent FSU back to soccer's version of the Final Four for the third time in the last four seasons.
"It was a great soccer game tonight," said FSU Head Coach Mark Krikorian. "We had two very good soccer teams battling as hard as they could to get a result to advance to the College Cup. I think that all of us had great respect for Clemson coming in and we still have great respect after the game. I felt that their effort was outstanding. Once again, I thought that our team showed their resilience in fighting back from a 1-0 deficit at halftime to score a couple goals and win the game. I thought our effort was very good, and I'm really proud of our group."
"Just like to congratulate Florida State on advancing to the College Cup," said Clemson Head Coach Todd Bramble. "They're a team we have a ton of respect for and hopefully we earned their respect tonight. But they're a good team."
The Seminoles join UCLA as one of just two teams that have gone to at least three of the last four College Cups. The Seminoles, who had never made it to the College Cup before the 2003 season are now a regular on soccer's biggest stage as the team joins powers like North Carolina, Notre Dame, UCLA, Portland and Santa Clara who have followed up a College Cup appearance by going again the following year.
"I think that's a credit to them," said Bramble of Florida State's third College Cup. "The parity of women's soccer has grown every year. There used to be just three of four teams that had a fair chance of winning the National Championship every year and now that number has grown into the double-digits. I think the consistency of their program is definitely worthy of some attention. But I think a lot of the credit goes to our conference. I think what makes North Carolina so good and Florida State so good and you can go down the list and name seven teams from our conference that are good enough to play in the College Cup."
Clemson, who had scored just one goal in 330 minutes of NCAA Tournament play coming into the quarterfinal match, stunned FSU early on. Despite holding a 16-6 edge in shots in the first half, it was the Tigers that went to the lockerrom at half with a 1-0 lead. Of the 15 NCAA Tournament wins in FSU history, only one had come when a Seminoles opponent scored first.
"That was huge for us, especially with the way the last three games have gone," said Franklin who scored the Tiger goal. "It put us in a great spot but we knew we had our work cut out for us. That's just the way it went in this game. I don't think we could have played any harder. I give credit to these girls."
The goal came on a brilliant strike by Franklin. The freshman collected the ball about 35 yards away from the goal. She struck a shot that went upper 90 at the near post giving FSU keeper Ali Mims no chance at the save. It was just the second goal of the tournament allowed by FSU and the first in the first half of a game.
"I thought we were able to go into the locker room at halftime and talk about some things that I thought were going well for us," said Bramble. "But there certainly were some things that we were giving up that we weren't happy about, we felt like if we could go out and continue to do the good things and clean up a few areas then we'd have a chance."
FSU made some tactical changes at half. Krikorian moved Katrin Schmidt out of the backline and into the midfield as the Seminoles pushed looking to equalize the match. The strategy paid off almost immediately. Just 9:17 into the second half, Florida State got on the board.
"The things that we saw were that we weren't playing in the space behind our forwards," said Krikorian of his adjustments. "We thought that that was a space that we were getting too high and playing with three across the front. We weren't really utilizing that space. I've said for a long time that Katrin Schmidt is just an outstanding midfielder, and we decided to put her into that role to try and put those balls into that space in the front. We put India (Trotter) into the back, because we know that India is secure no matter where she plays. We thought that we were able to play into Katrin's feet often and play off of her quite often and she gave us a big boost in to that spot. To be honest it isn't something we have trained a lot for but we saw Katrin playing in the attacking midfield spot in the spring."
"India plays for the national team there, so she is very accustomed to that position, and I thought she played very well," said Edwards. "(Katrin) Schmidt moved into the offensive mid, she's just a great player, and she created some great chances for us and everyone worked in their role and it all clicked together."
The spark FSU needed started when Clemson keeper Ashley Phillips came out of her box and played a ball out of bounds on the near side leading to a Kelly Rowland throw-in. The senior's long throw was sent in to the near post where Phillips punched the ball out. The clearance seemed to be headed out of bounds before Sarah Wagenfuhr headed it back into the box before the ball went out. Selin Kuralay got onto the end of the service and volleyed her shot past Phillips to even the match.
"I just realized that the ball was going to go out of bounds and I figured I might as well head the ball back into the mix and see if one of my teammates could do something with it," said Wagenfuhr. "I just kept it in and hoped that someone could do something with it, and Sel did."
"Heck of a finish, world class", said Krikorian of Kuralay's strike.
With the game now even both teams attacked looking for the game-winner. Clemson's best chance came in the 58th minute when Katie Vogel launched a brilliant shot from the far right side to the backpost that looked to be headed in but caught the crossbar.
Less than five minutes later FSU had its chance and the Seminoles made it count. The play started with a free kick as the teams combined to be whistled for 36 fouls, receive three yellow cards and one red card. Wagenfuhr drove the ball inside the Tigers' box. The service was cleared by Phillips back to the top of the box where Edwards collected the loose ball. The freshman took a few touches and then drilled a low liner that bounced off a Clemson defender just enough to alter the direction and go in.
"Wags (Sarah Wagenfuhr) took the free kick and the Clemson goalie came out and punched it away," said Edwards. "I was just standing at the top of the 18 (yard box) and I took two touches and it went off a few Clemson players and it found the net."
The goal wasn't just the first game-winner for Edwards' it was the first goal of her career. The freshmen, who leads the team with eight assists, couldn't have scored her first career goal at a better time for the Seminoles.
"It was pretty exciting, something I will never forget," said Edwards. "I'm just happy to help the team in every way I could, I'm just happy that it could come now.
"I just wanted to win the game, I was trying to help the team in any way I could. We stayed confident even after they scored and trusted each other that we would come back and do it. I'm just proud of everyone."
The Edwards goal held up sending FSU to the College Cup from the team's home field for the first time after advancing on the road in 2003 and 2005. A school-record postseason crowd of 1,754 came out to the game marking the third time in four NCAA Tournament matches the Seminoles have set and broken an attendance record.
"That (the fireworks after the game) was something I never imagined," said Mims about a string of firecrackers that were ignited after the win outside the stadium. "I didn't really ever imagine the size of the crowd that we had tonight after a holiday, it is just real exciting to have the type of atmosphere with the band and the people on the parking garage that get the things that we are tying to do here."
Florida State advances to face No. 1 Notre Dame next weekend in Cary, NC. Game time is yet to be set and the game will be shown on one of the ESPN networks. More information will be posted on the official website for Seminole athletics at Seminoles.com as soon as it is available.