Aug. 16, 2003
Tallahassee, FL - After an exhausting 12 practices in four days, three-a-days came to a close for the Florida State soccer team Saturday night. Head coach Patrick Baker finalized the team roster after his annual State Games put a fun cap on what is commonly referred to as 'hell week' by the players.
The State Games is a round-robin tournament where the teams are divided up by state or region. The teams wear outrageous themed uniforms and battle in five-minute games. This year's teams were Far West, Team Boca, Region I and Rest of Florida.
"There is so much emotion built up during the week that we try to do something fun yet competitive and productive to end the week," said Baker. "That is why we play the state games. It has worked out for me at NC Wesleyan and at Penn. The girls picked their team colors, which were very interesting. It gave certain groups some time to be together and pick a team theme and then showcase themselves in small games."
Team Boca, a group of south Florida players, was unable to defend their title as two new teams played for the coveted championship. Underdog squad 'Rest of Florida', comprised of Erica Lewis, Jessica Bell, Marion Cagle, Erin Preston and assistant coach Robin Confer defeated Far West for the title in a minor upset.
"We are very excited about winning the state game especially since we came in as the underdogs," said Marion Cagle. "Sometimes the little guy steps up, accepts the challenge and wins. That is what we did today. This is my first time winning the State Games after finishing last in 2002. It was a huge turnaround. Team camaraderie was the difference."
The Far West group was comprised of Californian's Leah Gallegos and Julia Schnugg, Oklahoman's Camie Bybee and Jez Ratliff and Colorado's Rachel McDowell. The team sported Blue Crush themed uniforms including skirts, goggles and leis.
"We were excited when we saw our team and we were very energetic," said Ratliff. "We were a little worried because our whole team was comprised of offensive players, which helped our goal scoring percentage. In the end though, having no defenders kind of hurt us. I got stuck in the back and I am terrible with possession. Overall we were happy with our second place finish and glad to finish ahead of Team Boca."
Old club teammates Amber Tollefson, India Trotter, Colette Swensen, Teresa Rivera and Alli Ferreri were joined by Kristin Boyce as Team Boca tried to defend its 2002 championship. Despite 80's inspired uniforms including names such as 'Footloose' and 'Boss' and Jennifer Beal inspired leg warmers, the south Florida kids were unable to reach the title game. They did however defeat the Region I squad in the third place game.
"We definitely had the best outfits. We worked hard at it. We took time and pride in theses outfits. We may have lost but we lost in style," said Teresa Rivera.
After the crowning of the champions, Baker announced the final team roster for 2003 and Team Boca finally had a reason to cheer as Davie, FL native Swensen earned a roster spot as a walk-on delighting her former Team Boca teammates.
"It was hard but I tried to push through it and hoped it would pay off in the end. I am excited," said Swensen. "Trying to make the team as a walk-on is scary but I tried to remain calm and not freak myself out. It was helpful having the support of the people I played with at Team Boca."
The other sound heard in the team huddle was a huge sigh of relief as three-a-days were officially over. The team will take team photos Sunday before they resume practice and two-a-days kick in.
"I am glad three-a-days are over but now we have two-a-days to look forward to," said Rivera. "This phase is over but the hard work isn't over by a long shot. I think we came together as a team this week but still have a way to go in some other areas."
"Four days in a row of three-a-days is extremely tough, intense and taxing. To their credit, the team did a great job. After a pretty disappointing 7:00 a.m. fitness on Thursday, the team responded. Today's fitness was average but we had two great sessions to end three-a-days."
The coaching staff was pleased with the way the team preformed throughout the week and the strides made by the freshman class. Baker though is still concerned by the overall level of fitness level of the 2003 squad and it will still be a major area of emphasis despite losing the 7:00 a.m. fitness session that was a key part of three-a-days.
"I feel good about our level of play. I am still concerned about the overall team fitness," said Baker. "I think our freshmen have come in and made a great statement when it comes to fitness. Now they are finding a comfort level and they have really started to emerge and showcase themselves, which is great.
"Our captains have shared with me that there is a renewed excitement this year. The whole team is already a unit and it happened rather instantaneously. We finalized the roster tonight and tomorrow they will be able to get their Florida State gear and their Nike gear. It is really special after a couple of days of very hard work."
The team will report at 9:30 a.m. Sunday for a brief stretching session before getting their Nike issued gear and uniforms. They will then take individual photos and then team photos for the 2003 media guide and marketing poster.
"When these young ladies commit to FSU they start to think about playing here and dream about playing here so getting their jersey tomorrow for picture day will be exciting. They will finally feel like they have made it but that is just the first step of many during."
For complete updates on FSU soccer preseason action, log on to www.seminoles.com the official athletic website for Florida State University.