Aug. 18, 2003
Tallahassee, FL - Just when the Seminole soccer team thought it could start to take it easy after three-a-days and a day off Sunday, the squad was back out early Monday for the start of two-a-day training. With the roster finalized, head coach Patrick Baker and his staff began to focus on setting a starting 11 and working on different systems of play.
The 9:30 a.m. session saw numerous engaging battles as the team went through 1-v-1, 2-v-2 and 3-v-3 drills. In the afternoon, the team played another full squad scrimmage as they went 11-v-11 for two 20-plus minute sessions.
"I was very pleased with the energy level and the competitiveness today of the entire group. Sometimes it is tough physically coming off a day of rest but they very much need that day off after three-a-days were finished," said Baker. "In the morning session there were some great battles and there were some match-ups we were dying to see. We looked at certain combinations in the 2-v-2's and there was some great action in front of the goals in 3-v-3's. (Kerry) York and (Joy) McKenzie made some big-time saves, there was some great composure shown and also great finishes in and around the box. The kids put in a lot of hard work and brought some great energy and it paid off."
The scrimmage featured six goals in the two sessions. As was the case with the last scrimmage, Baker felt the quality of play was its best in the first session and as the time wore on the quality slid a little. Julia Schnugg scored two goals and had an assist; Leah Gallegos scored a goal and recorded an assist and Alli Ferreri and Erica Lewis both scored. Kristin Boyce and Camie Bybee both recorded assists also.
"The first segment was the best segment because once again we got tired pretty quickly," said Baker. "We as a team are trying to find the right balance to carry us into the preseason games and get us prepared to open against a top 20 team in USC and a top 10 team in Penn State. We are trying to be ready for Friday night without being physically drained."
Gallegos and Schnugg continued to click up top together. The 2002 All-ACC rookie team selection and the US U-17 National Team member are helping the coaching staff forget that they need to replace two-time All-ACC striker Cindy Schofield. This is the second full field scrimmage in which both Gallegos and Schnugg have scored goals and the two combined for three goals and two assists Monday night.
"I think a lot of people felt Leah would be a formidable frontrunner for years to come after her freshman year," said Baker. "The one thing she has to realize as a sophomore is that she is a name player for us. That's exciting but there is a level that she needs to rise above. People are going to be very aware of where she is game in and game out.
"The great thing about Julia is that she is even better than I thought she was. Having seen her in a number of environments, it is different watching her playing with our group. She is very talented and still has a tremendous upside. She has great composure in front of goal, she has breakaway speed, she is good in combination play and she can solve things on her own. She is a pretty complete forward even at this young age."
Despite what seemed like an offensive barrage, most of the starting defense that played together in Monday's scrimmage held its own and didn't allow a goal in the first segment. One of the reasons for the optimism in the back is the fact that Boyce, Teresa Rivera and Katie Beal can work together for a full preseason for the first time ever. The group is the most decorated to ever play together in the FSU defense but didn't get to spend a preseason together last year when Beal was sidelined for over a month.
"I think the defense is ahead of where we were last year because of experience," said Beal. "We are young but this group is experienced. We have a great starting point and we are building off of that. Each of us is comfortable playing with one another and we know what we are capable of individually.
"It is great for me to be out here in a preseason environment because it allows me to get closer to the team. Last year I was coming and going to the doctor and sitting out of practice so it was hard."
Another injured Seminole who made her return to the practice field Monday was keeper Ali Mims. The redshirt-sophomore is still working her way back from a broken fibula she suffered in a preseason match at Georgia last year. After a year spent rehabbing, often alone in a gym, the Ponte Vedra Beach, FL native was working out on the sidelines with her teammates encouraging her.
"This feels great. I am glad I got a sweat in and could get a step closer to being out there on the field," said a beaming Mims. "I got a little dirty and that makes me feel good because I know I am back out with my team. I am a little out of breath but it is the best feeling in the world really.
"Being out here with the team is a night and day difference from rehabbing alone. It is 100% better. This atmosphere is awesome. Feeling the grass between your toes is unbelievable. As much as I don't like rehabbing alone, I know it is paying off because I am back out here today."
In other Seminole soccer news, this weekend's two preseason game times were finalized Monday. The Tribe will play the Tallahassee United Boys U-16 team Friday, August 22 at 7:00 p.m. at the Seminole Soccer Complex. The squad will take Saturday off and then face United Quest (Georgia) U-18 girl's team Sunday at 4:00 p.m. at the home also. Friday's game will be played in three 30-minute segments while Sunday's game will feature two 45-minute halves. Both games are free to the public and live stats will be available at www.seminoles.com the official athletic website for Florida State University.