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WEEKLY RELEASE: No. 12 FSU Soccer Opens At Home Friday
Courtesy: Seminoles.com
Release: 08/27/2003
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Aug. 27, 2003

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BATTLING THE BEST

The 2003 FSU soccer schedule could easily be the toughest ever played in Seminole soccer history. More than half (9 of 17) of the scheduled matches are against 2002 NCAA Tournament teams including two College Cup participants (Penn State and North Carolina). Not one team on the schedule posted a losing record last season and FSU's opponents went a combined 226-114-24 (.654). Eleven of the teams had 13 or more wins and six won at least one game in the NCAA Tournament. The Tribe's out of conference slate (Southern California, Penn State, Florida, Jacksonville, Kansas, San Diego State, Miami, Ole Miss, FAU and UCF) is easily the toughest ever assembled at FSU. In 2001, FSU played Santa Clara and Portland but from top to bottom the 2003 group seems to be more daunting.

Since starting the soccer program at FSU in 1995, the Seminoles have established quite a legacy for competing against the best in the nation. That point has never been as clear as when you look at just the amount of games they have played against recent National Champions and College Cup teams. The Seminoles have faced a defending National Champion in six of the last seven seasons and faced the eventual National Champion six times in a row from 1996-2001. Since 1996, FSU has played 11 games in seven years versus College Cup teams. The Tribe has played nine games against six National Champions and has faced every National Champion but one over that span. This year, the Tribe is scheduled to face two College Cup teams from 2002 in North Carolina and Penn State.

Over the last three seasons, the Seminoles have gone 16-14-1 during the regular season against NCAA Tournament teams. If you remove games versus Final Four teams during that span, the Garnet and Gold has posted a stellar 15-9-1 record against the NCAA Tournament field. In 2000, FSU posted wins over National Champion North Carolina (3-2 2OT), Florida (3-2) and Sweet 16 participant Texas A&M (4-1). The trend continued in 2001. Of the 24 games FSU played that year, 16 were against NCAA tourney teams. The Garnet and Gold was the only team in the nation last year to compete against all four teams who made it to the College Cup (North Carolina, Portland, Santa Clara, Florida) during the regular season. Last year, FSU competed against one College Cup participant (UNC), nine NCAA Tournament teams and three Sweet 16 teams.

BEEN THERE, DONE THAT

Over the last three seasons, the Seminoles have gone 16-14-1 during the regular season against NCAA Tournament teams. In 2000, FSU posted a 5-3 record against tourney teams during the regular season and in 2001, of the 24 games FSU played, 16 were against NCAA tourney teams. The Seminoles battled to an 8-7-1 record and during those 16 games, they outscored their opponents 35-32 while accumulating five shutouts. That year the Garnet and Gold were the only team in the nation to face all four teams who made it to the College Cup (North Carolina, Portland, Santa Clara, Florida) during the regular season. Last year was the first time in three years that FSU didn't post a winning mark against NCAA Tournament teams going 3-4 in the regular season. With nine of FSU's 17 opponents appearing in the 2002 dance, the Tribe will need to get back to their winning ways versus tournament tested teams.

TOUGH WEEK

This weekend's games versus USC and Penn State easily make up the most difficult opening weekend ever at FSU. The Seminoles have never opened the season with back-to-back games versus Top 20 teams like they will this year. Throw in No. 21 Florida, FSU's third game, and the first eight days of the soccer season will be a huge challenge for the 2003 Seminoles. In fact, the only time FSU has faced two higher ranked non-conference opponents was when they faced eventual College Cup teams Santa Clara and Portland in one weekend. This is the second year in a row that FSU has faced ranked teams in three straight games but the first time in the Baker era that the Tribe has played three straight games versus ranked, non-conference foes.

OPENING SHOT

Since Baker took over the FSU program in 1999, the Seminoles are 2-1-1 in season openers and 2-1-1 in home openers. The Tribe also has a 5-2-1 record in the first two games of the season. In the first two games of the year (eight games since 1999) FSU has managed to score just 13 goals while allowing 15. If you remove the 5-1 and 3-0 losses to start the 1999 season, Baker's first, FSU has outscored its opponents 12-7. Since 2000, Florida State is undefeated in its first two games of the year posting a 5-0-1 record. The only tie came last season against Oregon State. FSU is 1-1 all-time versus ranked opponents in season openers with both games coming versus Florida. In 1999, FSU fell 5-1 to the fourth-ranked Gators in Gainesville. FSU returned the favor in 2000 opening the season by stunning No. 6 Florida 3-2. This is the fourth time in five years FSU has opened the season at home.

GET USED TO FRIDAY & SUNDAY

The first four weekends of the 2003 FSU season feature games on Friday night and Sunday afternoon and half of those eight games come against 2002 NCAA Tournament teams. The sequence of playing Friday night and then turning around and playing on a blazing hot Sunday afternoon is very difficult but there are reasons for FSU to be optimistic. Since 1999, FSU has played on Friday and the following Sunday 10 times, in those games the Tribe has posted a 16-2-2 record. The only losses came in even numbered years (a loss to Clemson in 2000 and a loss to LSU in 2002). Both losses came in the Sunday afternoon game and each was by just one goal. Overall on the Sunday in those weekend series, FSU is 8-2. The other reason for hope is that FSU has never lost to a ranked opponent in any of those Friday/Sunday weekends posting a 3-0 record.

THE POWER OF TWO

Kristin Boyce and Amber Tollefson are the only two seniors on the 2003 team and they have a chance to do some things that have never been done in program history. If the co-captains can lead the team to the NCAA Tournament this season, they will be the only class to graduate with four straight trips to the postseason. They also have the opportunity to be the first class with four consecutive winning seasons and they could leave Tallahassee with the best career winning percentage ever. They are currently 42-23-6 for a .634 winning percentage. The previous best wining percentage by a class belonged to last year's seniors who graduated with a 51-33-8 (.598). Boyce and Tollefson also have the opportunity to be the first class to register 10 or more wins every year of their four-year career. The seniors posted 14 wins in 2000, 15 wins in 2001 and 13 wins in 2002. This year's class will try to become the second-ever to leave FSU with a winning record against Florida and they could even graduate with a 4-1 record against UF, the best in school history.

CORNERED

Florida State had its most successful season ever in 2003 when you combine winning percentage and NCAA Tournament advancement and that is the most important thing to head coach Patrick Baker. Part of the reason for the success was an offense that produced a record number of corner kicks. The Seminoles took a program-record 164 corners in 2002 compared to just 91 for their opponents, which was a school record for fewest corners in a season. Opponents took more than five corners versus FSU just five times in 23 games. In 2001, FSU only held opponents to five or fewer corners in a game nine times in 24 matches or 38% of the time. The 2002 squad came close to matching the 2000 team, which held opponents below six corners in 20 of the season's 24 matches, which is an amazing 83%. Last year opponents took six or more corner just 22% of the time. The Seminoles have taken 100 or more corners every season since Patrick Baker was hired. Before Baker's arrival, FSU had take more than 100 corners just once in four seasons.

WILL FRIDAY NIGHT STILL BE ALRIGHT

With FSU's win over Ole Miss in the opening round of last year's NCAA Tournament, the Seminoles continued some amazing streaks when it comes to Friday night games. Since Patrick Baker took over the Seminole soccer program in 1999, FSU has never lost a home game on a Friday night (12-0-2) and has never lost to a ranked opponent on a Friday night at the Seminole Soccer Complex (4-0-0) . The Seminoles are also 16-1-3 since 1999 at home under the lights and FSU is 8-1-0 at night against ranked teams at home. In his three-plus seasons at FSU, Baker has recorded wins under the lights in Tallahassee versus No. 6 UF (2000), No. 7 Texas A&M (2000), No. 20 Wake Forest (2000), No. 2 UNC (2000), No. 21 Maryland (2001), No. 17 Clemson (2002) and No. 21 Florida (2002).

THE CUPBOARD ISN'T BARE

Although Florida State lost the most productive player in the history of the program when Cindy Schofield graduated, that doesn't mean the FSU offense will be lacking this year. The Seminoles return four of their top five point scorers from 2002 and seven of the top nine point scorers. Four of the team's top five goal scorers are back and four of the top six players when it comes to game-winning goals return this season. FSU also returns five of its six leaders when it comes to assists.

Defensively, this may be the best group in the history of the program. All three goalkeepers are returning and the backline is set with established stars. Senior Kristin Boyce is probably the most unsung player since Baker took over but the All-Southeast region selection has had a stellar four-year career as a starter, Junior Katie Beal, a 2001 1st Team freshman All-American, missed much of 2002 due to a case of mono but is ready to step back into the starting line-up and re-establish herself as one of the best defenders in the nation. She is joined in the middle by 2001 Gatorade Player of the Year Teresa Rivera who started 12 games and appeared in 21 last season.

POLL POSITION It wasn't that long ago (2000) when FSU started the season having never been ranked in a national poll. Boy has Patrick Baker changed that. For the third year in a row, FSU is entering the season as a consensus Top 20 team. Since 2001, FSU has never entered a season ranked below 17th. Not bad for a program that was 31-44-5 before Baker came to town. 2003 is the first season ever that FSU will begin the year as a consensus top 15 squad.

WE KNEW THEY WERE GOOD

Although they haven't played a regular season game yet, the 2003 freshman class is living up to its advanced billing. Four freshman started in the final preseason tune up and in the two preseason games, first-year players accounted for seven of FSU's 20 points. The 2003 recruiting class came to Florida State as the most highly ranked and decorated in school history. SoccerBuzz tabbed the group as the seventh-best class in the nation, the highest ranking ever for an FSU class. They were also ranked the 10th-best recruiting class in the nation by Soccer America magazine, which is a first for FSU. This is the Baker's fourth consecutive Top 25 recruiting class and his third in the top 12.

Individually, Californian Julia Schnugg was named a 2003 Parade All-American, just the second FSU player ever to garner that honor. Schnugg has also been called up to the U-19 U.S. National side on two occasions. Midfielder/defender India Trotter has also made the U-19 National Team roster on three occasions. Trotter was also named the 21st-best recruit in the country by Soccer America magazine. Both players, Trotter and Schnugg, were among the original 36 players invited to participate in the McDonald's All-America High School game.

WHAT A START

When Florida State takes the field Friday night against No. 19 USC, four of FSU's five healthy freshman recruits may be in the starting line-up. Of the Tribe's eight freshmen, seven were recruited and five have been healthy enough to practice almost everyday this preseason. Four of those five have started once in a preseason game and three have started on two occasions. Julia Schnugg and India Trotter look like locks to start and Kelly Rowland and Toby Ranck are both in the mix to start. If all four start, it would mark the first time under Baker that four freshmen have started the first game of the season. Last year, Teresa Rivera was the only newcomer to start on opening day but three freshmen made starts for FSU in both 2000 and 2001.

SMART AND GIVING

Florida State soccer is in the midst of a renaissance under head coach Patrick Baker but he hasn't just turned the Tribe's fortunes around on the playing field. Baker's teams have accomplished a rare feat in which they have achieved unprecedented success on the field, in the community and in the classroom. Last year, FSU soccer went to the Sweet 16, donated more community service hours than any Florida State team and 11 of 27 players made the ACC Academic Honor Roll. Since his arrival, Baker's soccer teams have won an Athletic Director's Cup for Community Service, posted a .599 winning percentage, been to three straight NCAA Tournaments, two Sweet 16's and an ACC Championship game.

CALI COMBO

Before 2002, FSU had never had a player from California on its roster but come Friday night, the Tribe will start a duo of California kids up top. 2002 All-ACC Rookie Team member Leah Gallegos and U-19 National Team member Julia Schnugg are scheduled to start side-by-side for Florida State against Southern California. Schnugg is a Norcal kid but USC is right in Gallegos' neighborhood. The striker is from the Los Angeles area and played her high school soccer at LA's Franklin High. While the two may be from opposite ends of the state, they could form the most potent scoring combination ever at FSU.

PAIRS

Since his arrival, Patrick Baker has experienced unprecedented recruiting success at FSU. The Tribe's head coach has done a remarkable job of attracting the state's best talent to Tallahassee as was the case with Amber Tollefson, Cindy Schofield, Teresa Rivera, India Trotter and many more. The last two years, Baker has had more Florida players on his roster than he had in his first three years combined but now he is also bringing in some of the best recruits from across the country and they are coming in pairs. While the Cali combo (Leah Gallegos and Julia Schnugg) came in a year apart, the first pair of out of starters to come to FSU were Oklahoman's Camie Bybee and Jez Ratliff, both All-ACC Rookie Team members. Gallegos came in with Californian Shannon Coe last year and now a trio of Pennsylvania players joins the elite group. Kelly Rowland and Ali Wean both played for the same high school (Strath Haven in Wallingford) and their FSU teammate Toby Ranck played for Radnor in near-by Wayne.

Kelly Rowland IS DESTINY'S CHILD Freshman Kelly Rowland is opening eyes on the FSU practice field and is vying for a starting spot as the Tribe's right back. As good as she has been throughout the preseason, her play isn't the reason she is going to appear in the inaugural issue of Sports Illustrated's On Campus magazine. The new SI is featuring athletes who share names with famous people like FSU's Kelly Rowland who shares a name with the Destiny's Child singer. Rowland was interviewed by SI and will have her picture in the first ever issue.

71 GAMES AND COUNTING

Now in his fifth season, head coach Patrick Baker has done so much for soccer at Florida State that it is really hard to fully grasp the makeover this program has undergone. There are some streaks and notes that do give you a better understanding of how much he has accomplished. The 180 program firsts, team and individual records that have been set in just the last three seasons are amazing. The fact that Baker was named a finalist for the SoccerBuzz National Coach of the Year in 2000 is impressive. Taking FSU to three straight NCAA Tournaments, two Sweet 16's and beating Florida and North Carolina in one season are amazing but none of those really encompass the complete turnaround. The fact that Baker's teams have been .500 or above for 71 straight games now is amazing! Before his arrival, the FSU soccer program was .500 or below for 52 of its 80 games. Since Baker took over in 1999, he has led FSU in 91 games and his squads have been below .500 on just 5 occasions. That means a Baker-led team has been at .500 or above 95% of the time compared to 23% of the time in the program's first four years. It will be a huge challenge to keep that streak alive this year considering the Tribes first three games are against top 25 teams including No. 7 Penn State who was in the College Cup last year.

A NUMBER'S GAME

When you enter the Seminole Soccer Complex Friday night, you better pick up a program because FSU's returners played the number game in the off-season as three different players switched numbers. All three players are sophomores. All-ACC Rookie Team member Leah Gallegos switched from 9 to 13, forward Alli Ferreri is now half of her former self as she switched from 16 to 8 and Erica Lewis downsized trading in her old 22 shirt and picking-up Gallegos' old 9 jersey.

NO...NO...YES

When Florida State opens the season against Southern Cal, it will be the first time in program history FSU has ever played a Pac-10 team from California. The only team from California FSU has ever faced was Santa Clara in 2001 and they are a West Coast Conference squad. It is though the second straight year FSU will open with a Pac-10 team after facing Oregon State in the 2002 opener. The Tribe is 3-0-1 all-time versus the Pac-10. Penn State won't offer the Seminole much familiarity either since FSU has played only one Big Ten team ever. That game came in 2000 when FSU dropped a 2-1 decision to Ohio State in Missouri. After those two games, FSU will face Florida, who they have played more times (nine) than any other non-ACC school.

THE CUPBOARD ISN'T BARE

Although Florida State lost the most productive player in the history of the program when Cindy Schofield graduated, that doesn't mean the FSU offense will be lacking this year. The Seminoles return four of their top five point scorers from 2002 and seven of the top nine point scorers. Four of the team's top five goal scorers are back and four of the top six players when it comes to game-winning goals return this season. FSU also returns five of its six leaders when it comes to assists.

Defensively, this may be the best group in the history of the program. All three goalkeepers are returning and the backline is set with established stars. Senior Kristin Boyce is probably the most unsung player since Baker took over but the All-Southeast region selection has had a stellar four-year career as a starter, Junior Katie Beal, a 2001 1st Team freshman All-American, missed much of 2002 due to a case of mono but is ready to step back into the starting line-up and re-establish herself as one of the best defenders in the nation. She is joined in the middle by 2001 Gatorade Player of the Year Teresa Rivera who started 12 games and appeared in 21 last season.

WE KNEW THEY WERE GOOD

The accolades keep rolling in for the members of the 2003 FSU freshman class. The group was recently ranked the 10th-best recruiting class in the nation by Soccer America magazine, which is a first for FSU and this is the programs fourth consecutive Top 25 recruiting class and the third in the top 12. Individually, Californian Julia Schnugg was named a 2003 Parade All-American, just the second FSU player ever to garner that honor. Schnugg has also been called up to the U-19 U.S. National side on two occasions. Defender India Trotter has also made the U-19 National Team roster on three occasions. Trotter was also named the 21st-best recruit in the country by Soccer America magazine. Both players, Trotter and Schnugg, were among the original 36 players invited to participate in the McDonald's All-America High School game. Schnugg won't compete though as she tries to defend the national championship she won with the Pleasanton Rage in 2002.

WE COULD USE THAT THIS WEEKEND

Florida State opened the 2002 campaign in front of the sixth-largest crowd in program history and the second largest opening day crowd ever. The 954 fans were treated to 110 minutes of action packed soccer as FSU took 23 shots, 10 shots on goal, 11 corners and they racked up 15 shots from inside the Oregon State 18-yard box. The record crowd was followed up with another 572 fans two days later. That two-day total of 1526 was more than double the size of the rain-soaked opening day crowds in 2001 (747) . Considering who is coming in this weekend (USC and Penn State), the Tribe could use that kind of crowd support again.

STEADY CLIMB

Florida State is continuing to fight for and gain respect in the nation's toughest soccer conference. After being picked to finish dead last for its first five years of existence, FSU was pegged fifth in the annual preseason coaches' poll in 2001. The Seminoles exceeded those expectations and finished third in the regular season and advanced to the ACC Championship finals. Last year the ACC head honchos tabbed the Tribe fourth in the preseason poll and FSU lived up to advanced billing again as they finished the season 3-3-1 and in fourth place. For the third year in a row FSU has set a new high in the preseason ACC coaches' poll as they were picked third this year. If FSU can meet those expectations, they would equal their best-ever conference finish set in 2001.

THE MOST ON DAY ONE

The only opening day shutout ever recorded by an FSU team came last season versus Oregon State (0-0)...the Oregon State game was also the first time in program history that FSU was held without a goal in a season opener...the most goals FSU has ever scored in an opener is four (1998 & 1996)...the most shots FSU ever took in an opener was 30 (1998) and the most they ever allowed was 37 (1995)... FSU has only played one opener that went to OT and that was in 2002 (Oregon State)...the fewest shots Florida State ever took in an opener was six (1995)...the most goals the Tribe has ever allowed on opening day was five versus defending national champion Florida (1999)...FSU has never been held without a corner kick in a season-opener...the fewest corners FSU ever took in a season opener was 2 (1995 & 1999) and the most the Tribe ever took came last year when they had 11 versus Oregon State...the school record for assists in an opener is four and that was set in 1998 and then tied in 2001.

GOOD TEAMS, GREAT PLAYERS

Not only will FSU play its toughest schedule ever this season but they will also see some of the country's best players this year. It all starts with 2003 SoccerBuzz preseason Player of the Year Joanna Lohman Sunday. The Penn State midfielder is a preseason All-American after finishing 2002 as a finalist for the Honda and Hermann Awards. The Tribe will also see UNC's preseason All-American Lindsay Tarpley but the Tribe won't avoid Cat Reddick who will be done with the World Cup in time to rejoin the Heels for their 10/31 meeting with FSU.

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