Aug. 27, 2006
Tallahassee, FL - In 11 year's of soccer the Seminoles have accomplished many things. The team has been to six straight NCAA Tournaments. They have been to the College Cup in two of the last three years and they have gone to North Carolina and advanced past the Tar Heels in the NCAA Tournament. They had never defeated a team ranked No. 1 though until Sunday. Fourth-ranked Florida State opened its 2006 season in impressive fashion beating the top-ranked and defending National Champion Portland Pilots 2-1 in front of 1,625 fans, the second-largest crowd in school history.
"This is really the first time this group has played against any outside competition," said FSU Head Coach Mark Krikorian. "Overall it was quite good. We still have a few pieces that are not here and that we are looking forward to getting back. I give our group an `A' for effort and resiliency. I think we have something very positive to build upon."
"It was amazing out there today," said Edwards of the atmosphere. "I couldn't have asked for anything better. You could really feel the crowd out on the field. It was awesome. The entire atmosphere was incredible. It was a great introduction to what college soccer is all about."
The Seminoles had to come from behind to get the victory after Portland's Angie Woznuk put the Pilots in front on a long range goal 29 minutes in. Florida State came out in the second half and turned up the pressure under 90-plus degree temperatures and scored two goals within 10 minutes to secure the win. All-American India Trotter tied the game and sophomore Mami Yamaguchi won it recording the second game-winner of her career.
"In the first half I didn't think we were quite sharp enough keeping the ball to be truthful," said Krikorian. "One of the things we addressed at halftime was keeping the ball. Obviously the heat took a toll on their group and we were able to establish a nice rhythm in the second half. We thought it was just a matter of time before we would be able to score. We had enough good chances."
The Seminoles dominated the game statistically. They out shot Portland 25-5, took seven corners to just three for the Pilots and put nine shots on goal compared to just one for Portland. The disparity in the second half stats was obvious as FSU took 16 shots to one for Portland and six corners to none.
"I think if you just look at it in a superficial manner it is a little skewed," said Krikorian about the stats edge. "I don't believe the statistics really indicate the level of the teams. Portland is an outstanding team. They are National Champions. They have great players all over the field and they are well coached. They are going to be playing in December. We just hope we are around too.
"It was a great game. A great crowd. We had tremendous support. I was just happy we were able to find a way to win."
This was the 23rd comeback win in program history and the fourth for Krikorian in just 26 games in Tallahassee. It was also the fifth victory for Krikorian at FSU as the underdog and his fourth victory versus a top 10 squad. Despite controlling much of the game in the first half, it was Portland who was able to strike first putting FSU back on its heels.
"That was a great goal by Portland, upper 90," said Trotter. "It was a credit to them that they scored that amazing goal. I think we responded well. We came back and scored twice in the second half to win the game."
As well as FSU did in the first half, they were constantly stymied by Portland keeper Cori Alexander. The Pilot goalie recorded three point blank saves to keep FSU off the board. The first two came in the 12th minute when Holly Peltzer made a gorgeous run down the right flank. The sophomore played a ball around the defender and ran on to it at the endline. She fired a cross on to the head of Mami Yamaguchi but Alexander came up with the save. The rebound came right to Kirsten van de Ven but Alexander recovered and once again saved a sure goal.
The senior then helped Portland hang on to the lead just minutes into the second half. Kelly Rowland directed a corner kick on frame just a few yards out at the near post that Alexander batted away and out of danger.
"I give their goalkeeper all the credit," said Krikorian. "What a fantastic performance by that young lady."
"It was hard to get it past (Alexander)," said Selin Kuralay who assisted on the game-winning goal. "She put in a lot of good saves. At the end of the day we have to stay composed and we did do that. We didn't get frustrated. We kept waiting for our opportunities."
Staying patient had to be difficult for FSU as they had numerous chances to take the lead on Portland. Just three minutes into the game freshman Becky Edwards played a great free kick into Kuralay. The junior got on the end of the service but put the shot wide.
Edwards once again made her presence felt as Florida State searched for an early goal. The freshman played in a dangerous ball to Trotter. Alexander stormed out of her box and just beat Trotter to the ball 25 yards out from the goal.
After the two big back-to-back saves by Alexander in the 12th minute, Peltzer once again caused trouble for Portland. In the 19th minute she played a ball into the six-yard box the Kuralay once again got on the end of but once again put it just wide of the goal.
Florida State had another chance to go on top as Trotter made a dangerous run at the UP defense and then laid the pass off to van de Ven. The junior ripped a shot that was deflected, changed direction and rolled just wide of a diving Alexander.
After all FSU's pressure, it was Portland that found a way to go on top. On just the second shot of the game for the Pilots, Woznuk put Portland in front on a rip from 22 yards out. The junior beat Ali Mims near post for the early lead.
The first half saw FSU produce two more great chances. The first came on a van de Ven ball played in to Trotter. Trotter took a brilliant touch and sprung herself but was just tackled at the top of the 18 before she could pull the trigger.
FSU's last chance to tie at the half came on a great chip into the box by Kuralay into freshman Annie Stalzer. Stalzer was just shielded from the ball and couldn't get a shot off before Alexander came out to scoop up the ball.
In the second half, FSU and the weather both started to heat up. After two more near misses off a corner, the Seminoles started to attack Portland unmercifully. In the 58th minute Katrin Schmidt almost single handedly tied the game. She had a great run and got a clean look at the top of the 18. She tried to go over the top of the keeper but the shot was just high.
Three minutes later Schmidt started another attack with a great ball played across the face of the goal. van de Ven dummied the ball and it got to Trotter who was in all alone. Alexander charged Trotter and slide down to block the ball just as the shot left the Hermann Trophy candidate's foot.
Alexander came up huge once again in the 64th minute and once again the chance was created off a corner kick. Kuralay's shot was blocked in the box. She collected the rebound and fired it right on frame but Alexander snuffed out the chance again.
Five minutes later FSU finally broke through and it was the preseason All-Americans that combined on the goal. The play started with a free kick from about 40 yards out. Edwards played a ball into the box where Kuralay possessed and flicked a back heel pass to Trotter who buried the goal first time.
"What Sel did was awesome," said Trotter of the pass that set up the goal. "Whenever Sel is in the box you have to get in. That back heel was amazing. It was unbelievable. I was right in front of the goal and keeper kind of started to go far post so I hit it to the near post with my left foot."
"It is weird with me and India," said Kuralay when describing her assist. "I always feel like I know where she is running. I had a quick check over my shoulder before I passed the ball to her. I heard her call for it. Once you get the ball at her feet there is nothing she can't do. It was a nice bit of combination play."
The two pre-season All-Americans combined to score 29 goals in 2005, a record for a pair of Seminoles. They also led the team with nine assists apiece. Their 76 combined points is one of the reasons both players are up for the Hermann Trophy in 2006.
"They are great players," said Krikorian of Trotter and Kuralay. "They are smart and they combine well together. They always give you a good chance to score."
In the 78th minute Schmidt almost put FSU in front with a brilliant piece of individual effort. The sophomore received a ball between two defenders, turned and split the duo to run free across the top of the 18. She took a crack to the backpost but her low drive went just wide.
A minute later though the Seminoles got the goal they needed. The goal came off a rebound after a Yamaguchi pass hit a defender. Yamaguchi collected the loose ball and fired into the side-netting scoring the eventual game-winner.
"The first half I was a little tired and I felt like I disappeared," said Yamaguchi. "I had a great opportunity to score in the first half off the header. I didn't finish it but it made me confident that I could get one today. I kept telling myself it was coming. I just tried to stay positive and finally I scored. I am just so happy to help the team. I am so happy we were able to have a great start to the season.
"I had a shot with my right foot and it hit the defender. I was lucky to score. I kind of guessed where the rebound was coming. The ball came to me and I fortunately my left foot was good and I was able to score."
Florida State returns to action in Tempe, AZ next weekend when they face the Sun Devils Friday night at 9:00 p.m. ET. They then will play Loyola (MD) Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. ET. Live stats will be available for both games at Seminoles.com