Aug. 24, 2003
Tallahassee, FL - The No. 12 Florida State Seminoles wrapped-up their preseason undefeated by downing Georgia's United Quest U-18 team 3-2 Sunday afternoon. The Tribe out shot the Quest 24-9, took 10 shots on goal compared to four and out cornered the Quest 8-0. Four freshmen started the game for FSU, which was the final tune-up of the preseason for the Seminoles.
"I have mixed emotions. For the most part we weren't very sharp. There was some fatigue from Friday and we probably didn't give our opponent the respect they deserved," said head coach Patrick Baker. "After we played a very good boys team Friday, maybe the girls thought it was going to be easy today. We were very lethargic and played uninspired. There were times we lacked energy and emotion. Those were they two keys and a major disservice to us. To give the type of performance we gave today is mind-boggling to me.
"We're probably not as good as we showed Friday night and we're probably not as bad as we showed today. We are somewhere in-between but at least we got a big reality check. We will make ourselves better for Friday when we step out against a very talented Southern Cal team."
The Seminoles created numerous chances but had difficulty finishing off great combination play or dangerous runs. The Tribe was in alone with the keeper at least a half dozen times but couldn't find that final piece.
"We created great chances throughout the game. We gave our personality players a chance to score and for every three chances they should probably score one. We were far from that today," said Baker. "We just had the keeper to beat on approximately eight occasions that we didn't convert. We won't get those chances versus USC and Penn State next week."
Another area of concern for Baker was a defense that gave up two goals in a game for the second scrimmage in a row. The Seminole defense though didn't allow a goal until the 72nd-miute when the starting back four was off the field and Baker was experimenting with different combinations in the back.
"We feel like we can score goals against a lot of teams. Today we just had poor defending. We gave up breakaways and that was very frustrating. We have to tighten up that part of our game," said Baker. "Teams that have success in the NCAA Tournament defend very well as a unit. I am not just faulting our back four. We created a wonderful mentality in the spring. We did not give up goals and that became contagious. We are giving up two a game and if that continues we are going to be in for a long year. In fairness we have played a lot of different players and seen a lot of different combinations. There were players playing in new positions and in positions they may not be playing come next week."
"It is always a concern when we allow goals but we can learn from this and hopefully change some things," said senior co-captain Kristin Boyce. "Nobody wants to get scored upon but that is the game and it happens. I think the most important thing is what we take from it rather than dwell on giving up goals. All of us need to get better as a group."
The Seminoles broke on top just over nine minutes into the game as sophomore Leah Gallegos recorded her third goal of the preseason. The assist came from U-19 National Team member Julia Schnugg and was the freshman's third point of the preseason. Camie Bybee started the play finding Schnugg who turned and went endline. She served a perfect ball through the box and on to the head of Gallegos who buried the goal.
The game remained 1-0 until the 57th-minute when Florida State went up 2-0. Freshman Rachel McDowell assisted on Bybee's first goal of the preseason. The Colorado native lofted the ball over the top of the defense to a waiting Bybee. The junior chipped the keeper giving FSU some breathing room.
"I saw the play unfolding and Rachel (McDowell) played me a great ball over the top," said Bybee. "It bounced one time, the keeper came out and I just placed it over her head. It will be a confidence booster for me. Any time you can contribute to the team's success it raises everyone's confidence level."
"Camie (Bybee) made a great run and I heard her calling for it," said McDowell. "I chipped it over the backline and thankfully it got to her. Her finish was perfect."
The Quest narrowed the Tribe's lead to 2-1 in the 72nd-minute but as has been the case this preseason, FSU was able to get a late goal again. Five of FSU's seven goals this year have come in the final 38 minutes and four have been scored in the last 15 minutes of a game.
"I think we have taken team's best shots, got their energy and then we probably get a little stronger as the game moves on," said Baker. "We hope our overall team fitness starts to pay off. We have enough players to rotate in that 18 or 19 could start for us on any given day. We don't lose anything when we go to the bench. Our rotation allows us to have a little more of a spark."
"I think we are scoring late in the game because of this team's work ethic and how hard we train," said Jessica Bell. "Our fitness level needs to improve but all of us are trying to push ourselves in the last 20 or 30 minutes."
That effort paid off again at the 80-minute mark when a dangerous corner eventually led to a Seminole goal. The corner was well driven by Sarah Rosseau but the Tribe was unable to latch on to the service, which was cleared out to Bell standing on the right side of the box 18 yards away. The sophomore one-timed the clearance to the far post beating the keeper.
"I saw that the corner kick didn't get finished and the clearance was coming straight to me," said Bell. "I saw the keeper come near post and I hit it. I volleyed it and was hoping it wouldn't go over the net."
The game was the final preseason tune-up but there is still a lot of work ahead for FSU according to coaches and players. With two top 20 teams coming in next weekend and a top 20 team waiting in Gainesville a week later, the Tribe knows this week leading up to the opener will be critical.
"The team's we are going to see in the regular season are a level above the team's we met in the scrimmages," said McDowell. "Next week we see a Penn State team that was in the College Cup and a USC squad that was in the NCAA Tournament. It will be very different. But I think playing with each other was a big help to me. We are going to have to step it up next week though."
"I think we are stronger this year from a personnel standpoint but we still have along ways to go and so much potential we haven't tapped in to," said Boyce. "This is going to be an exciting season and I think we have had a much better preseason this year. When we all come out of our shells and pull it all together, this could be a special team."
Heading into next week's season-opener, FSU's seventh-ranked recruiting class continues to impress. Of the 20 points Seminole players have recorded this year, seven have come from freshmen. Four first-year players started Sunday and every healthy freshman, six in all, has seen playing time this preseason.
"I think the freshmen are all really excited we have been given this much of an opportunity to play. When we go in we want to make an impact and prove the confidence the coaches have in us is justified," said McDowell. "I don't think any of us are cocky because we have had some preseason success. This is just a start and the teams are going to get better every week."
The Tribe is now less than a week away from facing two top 20 teams next week when they open the season at home versus No. 19 Southern Cal and No. 8 Penn State. Both games take place at the Seminole soccer complex and there is no admission charge. The Trojans are in town for a Friday night tilt at 7:00 p.m. and the Nittany Lions come to Tallahassee for a Sunday game scheduled for 1:00 p.m. For more information on the Florida State soccer team, please visit our official home on the web at www.seminoles.com.