Nov. 19, 2006
Tallahassee, FL - Unlike the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament where the Florida State offense exploded for nine goals, the second-seeded Seminoles scored just once versus third-seed Illinois Sunday but that was all it took. Florida State (17-3-4) recorded its 14th shutout of the year as the Seminoles downed third-seeded Illinois (16-8-0) 1-0 to move to the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals for the third time in the last four seasons. FSU moves on to face Clemson for the right to advance to the College Cup.
"It was a heartfelt win today," said FSU Head Coach Mark Krikorian. "I give Illinois all the credit in the world. They came in and battled us real hard. We're fortunate to have gotten that goal in the first half. I thought that our team defending was good for the most part we were organized and we did what we had to do to advance. It wasn't as artistic today as it has been in other games, but when you get to this point in the year it's all about advancing and moving on. I give our group an awful lot of credit for being so mentally tough and hanging in there and finding a way to win the game."
"First of all, congratulations to Florida State," said Illinois Head Coach Janet Rayfield. "I think like we have throughout this tournament, saw a terrific women's college soccer match. I said before the game started that I thought this would be decided by the team that could finish the chances that they got. I felt both teams didn't get a lot of chances until it was, as predicted the team that was able to capitalize on an opportunity was the victor today."
Kelly Rowland scored her second NCAA Tournament goal this season and her fourth career postseason goal just 20 minutes in to the match. It was the fourth goal scored this tournament by FSU in the first 20 minutes of a game. With the goal, Rowland moved into second place all-time at Florida State for career postseason points and second all-time in postseason goals.
The Seminole defense then held the Fighting Illini off the board the rest of the way. FSU has now allowed just one goal in 270:00 in the NCAA Tournament as they continue to shatter the single season shutout record. With the 14th clean sheet of the season, the 2006 Seminoles now have three more shutouts than the 2005 team, which was the previous record holder. FSU limited Illinois to just six shots of which just one was put on goal.
This is the second straight season FSU has won a third round match at home and for the second year in a row FSU will need to beat a conference opponent to move to the school's third College Cup. FSU has never lost an NCAA Tournament quarterfinal match going 1-0-1. The team advanced past North Carolina in Chapel Hill last year and this season they will face Clemson with a host site and game time to be determined later Sunday night. FSU is looking to move to the final four teams for the third time in four seasons.
"What I said when I came here is we want to develop a consistency in the program," said Krikorian. "The foundation that Ali Mims and Kelly Rowland help to establish long before I arrived, now coupled with the addition of Katrin Schmidt and Kirsten van de Ven and the rest of the team I think we're starting to develop that consistency. We won't be satisfied until we get back to the College Cup and get the chance to compete in the College Cup. We're thankful that we had a good day today. We found a way to get a result. But now our focus completely turns to Clemson and we get ourselves prepared for that game."
"I think it speaks a lot about this program; where it's going and where it's been," said Rowland of the team's NCAA Tournament success lately. "It's another Elite Eight and another milestone to reach. I think we're happy to get another game in and get on the field again. I think we'll keep riding it as far as we can."
The win extended the Seminoles home unbeaten streak to a school-record 19 games. Florida State is now 17-0-2 at home since a loss to North Carolina in September of 2005. For the second time in the NCAA Tournament FSU set a new attendance record as 1,206 fans attended the game Sunday, besting the record set versus Jacksonville when 1,076 fans were in the stadium.
"I think it speaks a lot about the support we have here at Florida State from the administration to all the fans," said Rowland of the team's record home unbeaten streak. "Obviously it's a huge boost playing in front of our fans. I love it, I love seeing the student support and all of our parents. The weather helps a bit too, I love it."
"I think it's a fantastic advantage," said Krikorian of playing at home. "Most teams can't come in here and compete as well. I think every team in the country prefers to play at home. So for us to be here and playing in front of our crowd on our beautiful field in beautiful Florida I think is a big advantage for us. I think all of us feel comfortable here and we're getting our fair share of good results."
The 2006 NCAA Tournament has been a story of fast starts for FSU. In the opening round the Seminoles scored the earliest NCAA Tournament goal in program history scoring just three minutes in versus Jacksonville. Versus Cal Florida State scored three times in the first 27:00. Versus Illinois it looked like FSU would get on the board early again as just 14 minutes in the Seminoles looked like they would jump in front. Rowland's long throw-in to the near post was cleared by Illinois but right to Selin Kuralay at the top of the box. The junior drove a shot that seemed headed for the side of the net but a deflection by a Fighting Illini defender kept the game scoreless.
Just five minutes later though FSU did find the back of the net. Katrin Schmidt lofted a perfect service from the left side to the backpost where Rowland was making a run. The senior latched on to the pass and headed it past Illinois keeper Lindsey Carstens for the lone goal of the match.
"I saw Kelly making that run and she was asking for the ball and I tried to find her," said Schmidt of the service. "She's a great header and she got on the end. I saw her run and hit it into the goal."
"Katrin served a great ball and I was able to get a handle on it," said Rowland. "It felt good that it went in and that we were able to hold it to 1-0."
The goal was the fifth of the season for Rowland who has now scored 17 in her illustrious career. For Schmidt, the assist was the third of the season for the Soccer Buzz Player of the Year finalist. All three have come in the last 11 matches.
"I tell her almost every day that she's the best left back in the country," said Krikorian of Schmidt. "She's a fantastic defender and attacker and we're fortunate to have her here. She came in as an attacking midfield player and was open-minded to doing what it took to help our team a year ago. She's just developed, developed, developed and don't be surprised to see her playing for the German women's team one day."
"Florida State has a lot of attacking weapons," said Rayfield. "The thing that makes Schmidt dangerous is getting the ball to India Trotter and Selin Kuralay. I think we knew we were going to have to defend collectively together because of the talent they have top to bottom. It was a battle of teams that both have weapons. Katrin is a great player as is everyone who was on the field today."
Illinois had its best chance to tie the match coming out of the lockerrom. In the 49th minute a free kick was played into the box where Jacki Santacaterina was waiting. The midfielder got her head on the service and played it to the near post but Kirsten van de Ven was standing right on the line to keep the potential equalizer out of the net.
"Yeah I saw it," said van de Ven with a chuckle. "Actually it just hit me but that's why you have to do when you're on the post, right?"
"It was a free kick and I was thinking should I put people on the post or not," said Mims. "Kirsten stepped up and took that initiative and took the post and knew that was something that needed to happen. That was all her decision. That's what this team is able to do, we're able to read each other and give that support where it needs to be."
The Fighting Illini pressed for most of the second half looking to tie the game but the FSU defense would not break. After the near goal four minutes in, Illinois did not put another shot on frame the rest of the match
"Well they needed to score so they were pressing us and pressuring us," said Mims of the second half. "We had a coupled of miscues on our part, but as far as I'm concerned everything was under control. I did what I had to do, everyone else did what they had to do to sacrifice themselves. I didn't have a save but we had a team save. That shows you right there what this team is made of. We help each other out and that's what matters."
"I think part of it is you're ahead and you try to protect the lead some," said Krikorian about Illinois' in the second half. "I think the wind was pretty strong today and I think it was a big advantage to whoever had it at their back. I thought our collective defending was good and we limited the amount of big chances they had."
Florida State advances to face Clemson next weekend. Game time and site will be determined Sunday evening and will be released on the official website for Seminole athletics at Seminoles.com later this evening.