COUNTDOWN TO THE CUP: FSU Soccer Preparing For Third College Cup Appearance
Nov. 27, 2006
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Florida State has advanced to the College Cup in back-to-back seasons for the first time in program history.
The Seminoles have now been to three of the last four College Cups.
Only UCLA (4) has been to more College Cups since 2003 than Florida State (3).
Florida State has never lost a quarterfinal match in the NCAA's going 2-0-1.
FSU has recorded two shutouts in a single NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.
In seven NCAA Tournament trips the Seminoles have recorded seven shutouts.
Florida State is now 16-5-2 in NCAA Tournament play for a .739 winning percentage. Fifth-best ever among teams with 10 or more games.
In just seven trips to the NCAA Tournament, Florida State's 16 wins already rank as the 10th-most in NCAA history.
Only four teams in NCAA history average more wins per NCAA Tournament trip than FSU.
With a 1-0 shutout of Illinois in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. FSU has 14 shutouts on the season besting the single season record of 11 set in 2005.
Ali Mims is FSU's career NCAA Tournament leader in shutouts with four. She now has 46 wins and 20 shutouts in her career.
FSU has never faced Notre Dame and has never won a game or even scored a goal in two previous College Cup trips.
Florida State and UCLA are the only teams to have played in the 2005 and 2006 College Cups.
The ACC is the only conference with more than one team in the College Cup representing half of the final four teams.
Four of the five teams with the highest winning percentage in NCAA Tournament history are playing in the 2006 College Cup. The only exception is Portland.
Mark Krikorian is only the fourth coach ever to take over a program and lead it to back-to-back College Cups in his first two seasons at the helm. This is the second straight season FSU has advanced to the College Cup as a No. 2 seed.
FSU is the first team in almost a decade to advance to the College Cup in back-to-back seasons as a No. 2 seed. The last team to do that was Notre Dame in 1996 and 1997. Only one other team has done that and it was UMass in 1986 and 1987.
TOURNEY TALK This is the third time in seven trips to the NCAA Tournament that Florida State has advanced to the College Cup and all those trips have come in the last four seasons. Florida State has never won a match at the College Cup and has been outscored 6-0 in two previous trips. In 2003 FSU faced UConn in Cary, NC and lost to the Huskies 2-0. Last season the Seminoles opened up with UCLA and fell 4-0. This is the second time FSU will play in the College Cup in Cary, NC and the second time this season FSU has played a tournament at the SAS Soccer Complex. Less than a month ago the Seminoles played three games at SAS in the ACC Tournament losing 2-1 in OT in the ACC Championship game to fellow College Cup participant North Carolina. When the Seminoles face Notre Dame Friday it will be the squad's fourth game of the year at SAS and the team's eighth game played in the state of North Carolina. Although the program has advanced to the College Cup three times now, none of the routes have ever been like this year. For the first time FSU played four straight NCAA Tournament games at home to reach the College Cup. FSU had never advanced to the College Cup from its home field before last week. In the first six NCAA invites FSU played just six of its 19 games at home. In just one tournament run this year FSU almost equaled that number with four home games. This is the second straight season in which FSU has faced an opponent for the first time in program history in a national semi-final. Last season FSU and UCLA met for the first time ever at the College Cup. This season all four of FSU's NCAA Tournament games have come against teams the Seminoles played in the last calendar year. Florida State faced both Jacksonville and Clemson during the regular season and Illinois and Cal in the 2005 NCAA Tournament.
NOTRE DAME (24-0-1)
SERIES RECORD: Never met
IN THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: Never met
WIN STREAK: Never met
NCAA BERTH: Big East Champion
FIGHTING THE IRISH Once again the Florida State soccer program heads into a College Cup having never played its opponent before. Last season FSU played UCLA for the first time ever in the NCAA semi-finals and lost 4-0. Although that first meeting did not go to well, the Seminoles have fared pretty well versus first time opponents in the NCAA Tournament. Florida State is 4-2-1 all-time in NCAA Tournament play in the first meeting in school history with an opponent. The Seminoles recorded their first-ever wins over Dartmouth (2003), West Virginia (2003), Illinois (2005) and Cal (2005) in the first meeting between the schools in the NCAA Tournament. In 2004 FSU and BC tied 0-0 in the first game between the future ACC opponents. The Seminoles two losses came versus UConn in 2002 and UCLA last season. Florida State does have some familiarity with Big East schools though. Florida State is 10-3-1 versus current members of the Big East conference. Most of those wins came versus South Florida who FSU is 7-0-1 against lifetime. The Seminoles also went 4-0 versus the University of Miami during its tenure in the Big East. FSU Head Coach Mark Krikorian and Notre Dame Head Coach Randy Waldrum will meet on opposite sides of the bench for the first time in their careers Friday. Krikorian and Waldrum are two of only four coaches to ever lead their teams to the College Cup in their first two seasons after taking over a program. Waldrum did it in 1999 and 2000 and Krikorian has now done it 2005 and 2006.
NORTH CAROLINA (25-1-0)
SERIES RECORD: UNC leads 19-1-1
AT THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: Series tied 0-0-1
WIN STREAK: UNC has won 9 of the last 10
LAST MEETING: UNC 2 FSU 1 OT (ACC Tournament)
NCAA BERTH: ACC Champion
OUR NEMISIS North Carolina has dominated this series. Even the Seminoles biggest "win" in the 20 meetings between the teams wasn't really a win. While FSU may have advanced past the Heels and into the College Cup last year, the game was actually a 1-1 tie that was heavily one-sided in Carolina's favor. The only time FSU has ever defeated the Heels came in a game played in Tallahassee on a Tuesday night in 2000. Since defeating the Heels FSU is just 0-10-1 and has been outscored 37-8. In five of those 10 games Carolina has won by three goals or more. FSU has improved on those numbers as of late though. Five of the last seven meetings have been one-goal affairs or a tie. Earlier this season the teams opened ACC play versus one another in Chapel Hill and played another one-goal game with UNC winning 2-1. It was the first time the teams ever met where Florida State came into the match as the higher ranked side. The squads then met again for the ACC Championship November 5 and UNC won that match 2-1 in overtime.
Since 1995, the year FSU began its soccer program, no team in the country has faced North Carolina as many times as the Seminoles. In the last 12 seasons FSU has played an astonishing 20 games versus North Carolina. The main reason for that are the seven meetings between the teams in the ACC Tournament. The first four were meetings between 1 and 8 seeds, with FSU being the eight in all four of those matches. Of the last three ACC Tournament meetings between the teams, two have come in the championship game and one has been in the semifinals. Last season you had the first-ever meeting between the schools in the NCAA Tournament. FSU has faced North Carolina twice before in Cary, NC. Both games were in the ACC Tournament finals and both games were one-goal affairs decided in the last 10 minutes or in overtime.
SERIES RECORD: UCLA leads 1-0
AT THE NCAA TOURNAMENT: UCLA leads 1-0
WIN STREAK: UCLA won the only meeting
LAST MEETING: UCLA 4 FSU 0 (2005 College Cup)
NCAA BERTH: Pac-10 Champion
REMATCH IN THE BRUIN? Florida State and UCLA met for the first time in program history last season in College Station, TX at the 2005 College Cup and it was not a good memory for Florida State. After playing the first 38 minutes of the game even at 0-0, the Bruins scored two goals just under five minutes apart before half on their way to a 4-0 win. The Bruins handed FSU it's most-lopsided NCAA Tournament loss and scored the most goals ever allowed by an FSU team in the NCAA Tournament in the national semi-final last season. If the teams were to meet again, it would be a match-up between the two most successful programs as far as College Cup appearances the last four years. Florida State and UCLA have combined to make seven trips to the College Cup in the last four seasons. While both have had success in reaching the final weekend of the season, neither has been able to hoist the National Championship trophy as of yet. Only Connecticut (7) and UMass (6) have been to more College Cups without winning a title than UCLA and FSU. If the two teams were to advance to the National Championship Sunday, obviously one would finally get to hold that trophy. The Seminoles have become a lot more familiar with Pac-10 opponents as of late. This season FSU defeated both Arizona State and Cal to raise the program's record to 9-2-1 all-time versus Pac-10 teams. The Seminoles are 4-1-0 versus Pac-10 teams in games played away from home with the only loss coming to UCLA last season.
GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN Florida State's trip to the 2006 College Cup officially marks the program's ascension to one of the nation's elite. FSU is still searching for that first National Championship but nobody can deny the Seminoles' place among the top handful of programs this decade. FSU has now gone to back-to-back College Cups and has advanced to three of the last four national semi-finals. Only UCLA has been to more College Cups over the last four seasons then FSU and only three schools have been to more College Cups this decade than the Seminoles. UCLA and UNC have both been to five Cups this decade then Portland is in second with four but the Pilots have been to just one Cup since 2003. Florida State is tied with two National Champions, Santa Clara and Notre Dame, for third place with three appearances. FSU and UCLA are also the only two schools to make it to both the 2005 and 2006 College Cups. FSU now joins a prestigious list of only 11 programs that have ever gone to back-to-back College Cups and one of just five schools that has accomplished that feat this decade.
GOOD CHOICE When Patrick Baker left Florida State for Georgia just one season after leading the Seminoles to the school's first College Cup in 2003, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the program. That was until Mark Krikorian came in. In just two seasons Krikorian is proving himself to be one of the best Division I coaches in the game. Krikorian is the first DI coach to ever lead his team to back-to-back College Cups in his first two years in the era of the 64 team tournament. Three other coaches have taken their teams to the final four in their first two seasons on the job but Krikorian is the only coach of that group to pull off that feat against a full 64-team field. When Notre Dame's Randy Waldrum did it in 1999 and 2000 there were 48 teams invited to the NCAA Tournament those seasons. When Carl Bean did it with Colorado College in 1990 and 1991 and Paul Verhees accomplished this feat in 1987 and 1988 there were only 12 teams invited to the tournament in each of those seasons. No coach in America has advanced through eight rounds of NCAA Tournament play in his first two seasons at a school except for Krikorian. Krikorian hasn't just been brilliant in the postseason. For the second straight season his teams have recorded at least 18 wins. The previous single season record for wins came in 2003 when FSU recorded 17 victories that year. The two highest win totals in FSU history have now both come under Krikorian as his 38 wins are just four short of the wins FSU had accumulated in the three seasons before he was hired. To put into perspective just how amazing that number is you just have to look back at the history of FSU soccer. It took 92 games from 1995 to 1999 for FSU to notch the 38th win in program history yet Krikorian has done it in just 50 career games.
College Cups In Each Of A Coaches' First Two Seasons
Paul Verhees California, 87 & 88
Carl Beal Colorado College, 90 & 91
Randy Waldrum Notre Dame, 99 & 00
Mark Krikorian Florida State, 05 & 06
SUCCESS STORY For a team that never played in the NCAA Tournament prior to this decade, Florida State is making its presence felt quickly and is truly one of the biggest success stories in women's college soccer. Despite starting its program just over a decade ago, the only school that has matched Florida State's success over the same span is the Seminoles' biggest rival, Florida. FSU and UF are both in the top 10 for all-time NCAA Tournament wins despite having programs for just 12 seasons. Florida has won a National Championship and been to two College Cups while the Seminoles have been to three College Cups. The Seminoles have been to seven straight NCAA Tournaments, five round of 16's, three quarterfinals and three College Cups in the last six seasons. Most amazingly, FSU is already in the top 10 for all-time NCAA Tournament wins and the Seminoles rank fifth in the history of the NCAA in wins per trip to the NCAA Tournament. The only schools that have won more games per trip to the NCAA's are North Carolina, Notre Dame, UCLA and Portland. Florida State is one of just two teams with multiple College Cup appearances in the last three years, seven teams to make two of the last three quarterfinals, one of just nine schools to advance to the third round four or more times since 2000 and one of just 14 schools to be invited to seven straight NCAA Tournaments. Getting there is one thing but winning once you're in is another. Few teams have done a better job winning NCAA Tournament games than Florida State. Of the teams that have played 10 or more all-time games, FSU has the fifth-highest winning percentage of any team in NCAA Tournament history. Only the University of North Carolina, Notre Dame, Portland and UCLA have a better success rates in the tournament. FSU is in elite company. Only five teams have a winning percentage of even .710 or better and three have won National Championships this decade (UNC, Notre Dame and Portland). Considering the fact that FSU has never gone through a tournament undefeated like Portland, UNC, Notre Dame and Santa Clara, it is amazing that their winning percentage is in the top five all-time.
STILL THE LITTLE GUY
As many strides as FSU has made to get the program among the elites in the nation this decade, FSU will once again enter the College Cup as a little bit of an outsider. Florida State is the only team in Cary this weekend who did not win its conference championship. Both Notre Dame and North Carolina won their conference regular season and postseason tournament titles. UCLA won the Pac-10 championship by virtue of its regular season. FSU is also the only team of the four that has never won a game at the College Cup. The Seminoles are 0-2 in two trips to the Cup. North Carolina has won 37 College Cup matches, Notre Dame seven and UCLA three. Not only are the Seminoles the only winless team here, FSU is alone in another category. Florida State is the only school at the College Cup which has never scored a goal on the final weekend of the season. North Carolina has scored six goals in a College Cup game alone in contrast. So if FSU is to move to the first final in school history they will need to buck some trends including winning the first game in December in school history. Another thing they will need to do is beat a team either seeded No. 1 or ranked No. 1. The Seminoles win over Portland to open the 2006 season was the first time in school history FSU ever defeated a No. 1 team. When FSU beat North Carolina in 2000 the Tar Heels were an uncustomary No. 3 in the NSCAA poll. Last season Florida State did advance past North Carolina in a tie game but Florida State has never beaten a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament or a team ranked No. 1 in the postseason. In 2003 the Seminoles did beat Florida who was a third-seed that year but under the current seeding format the Gators would have been one of the four No. 1's. The Seminoles will get their shot at another No. 1 ranked team and top seed versus Notre Dame Friday.
THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTENCE
Playing games at home is a big advantage and if you don't believe that just look at this year's College Cup field. All four teams at the 2006 College Cup played every one of their NCAA Tournament games at home. Not one of the four teams had to win a road game to make it to Cary, NC. That is a big deal when you look at the four teams and how they have done in their home stadiums. Notre Dame is in the midst of a 32-game home winning streak while FSU is unbeaten in its last 20 home matches. UNC is just 241-5-5 at home in the last 26 seasons and UCLA is on a 26-game home unbeaten streak. So in the last two seasons the four College Cup teams have gone 91-3-4 for a .949 winning percentage in games played at home. While the College Cup is held at a neutral site, don't expect it to be a totally unbiased venue. First of all, North Carolina's proximity and success at SAS in the NCAA and ACC Tournaments will make them the most comfortable team of all at the venue. Notre Dame should feel good playing at SAS considering the Fighting Irish won their 2004 National Title in Cary. UCLA has played three College Cup games at SAS so the Bruins won't be in unfamiliar surroundings but outside of UNC, the Seminoles will probably feel most at home. This will be the fourth game for Florida State at the SAS Soccer Complex this season and the 11th time FSU has played at the stadium all-time. FSU is 4-4-2 at the SAS Soccer Complex playing a College Cup game there in 2003 and ACC Championship finals in 2003 and earlier this season. Two of FSU's four losses at SAS have come to North Carolina in the ACC Tournament Championship game. The other losses came versus Virginia in the ACC semi-finals in 2005 and versus Connecticut in the national semi-final in 2003.
FSU at SAS Soccer Stadium
YR OPP SCORE
2003 Wake W 2-1
2003 Mary. W 1-0
2003 UNC L 3-2
2003 UConn L 2-0
2004 Clem. T 0-0
2005 Clem. W 4-0
2005 UVA L 2-0
2006 Duke W 2-0
2006 Wake T 0-0
2006 UNC L 2-1
CAROLINA ON MY MIND
The Seminoles are not only familiar with the SAS Soccer Stadium but FSU is also familiar with playing in North Carolina in general. This will be the team's fourth trip to North Carolina this season and the match versus Notre Dame will mark FSU's eighth game played in the state of North Carolina in 2006. The Seminoles have had a banner season in the state. Even though FSU went 3-3-1 in North Carolina and Florida State suffered all three of their losses this season in the state, when you look back at FSU's success in the state of Carolina, this has been a good year. Prior to the 2006 season, FSU had never won a regular season game in the state of Carolina with the exception of two wins versus NC State. That changed this season when FSU defeated Wake Forest 3-2 in Winston Salem. Before the win over the Demon Deacons FSU was just 3-15-3 in regular season ACC games in North Carolina. Versus Duke, North Carolina and Wake Forest Florida State is still just a combined 1-13-2 overall. FSU is just 4-16-3 in regular season ACC games in North Carolina. If you include all games FSU has played in the state of North Carolina, including ACC and NCAA Tournament games, things look a little better. In ACC Tournament games played in North Carolina FSU is 5-7-4 and 0-1-1 in NCAA Tournament games there. If you also include the two games the Seminoles lost at Wake in neutral site games versus Portland and Santa Clara, the Seminoles are 9-24-8 all-time in the state of North Carolina.
There really aren't many surprises among the four teams that made it to the 2006 College Cup. North Carolina and Notre Dame are currently the top teams in every poll entering the postseason. Florida State was ranked No. 1 for a month earlier this season and UCLA is a top three team as well. There really are no surprises among the group. The interesting dynamic is the similarity of the way the team's got to Cary. As mentioned earlier all four teams played every one of their NCAA Tournament games at home. That wasn't supposed to be the case for UCLA and FSU. The Seminoles and Bruins were two seeds who saw the No. 1 team in their bracket get upset. Both FSU and UCLA beat the No. 3 seed in their quadrants but both schools made it to the College Cup by defeating an unseeded opponent. North Carolina and Notre Dame, on the other hand, were No. 1 seeds and both had to beat the No. 2 seeded team in their bracket to make it to Cary. The way the tournament played out, none of the four teams in the 2006 College Cup defeated a higher seeded team marking the first time that has happened since 1999. All four teams played opponents with a combined winning percentage above .600 and all three defeated at least one team ranked in the NSCAA. Carolina had the toughest road based on winning percentage as their NCAA Tournament opponents were the only group with a winning percentage above .700 but the Tar Heels were the only team that didn't play multiple games versus a team ranked in the NSCAA poll. FSU and UCLA only played one seeded team to reach the College Cup while Notre Dame and North Carolina each defeated two.
The Seminole soccer team came into the NCAA Tournament having played the third-most games versus NCAA Tournament teams in the nation. FSU played 12 games versus nine teams that were invited to the postseason. After the first three rounds of play, the Seminoles' schedule looked even tougher. Florida State played four games versus the seven teams that were still remaining in the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals. Only North Carolina had played more (6) and no other team had played more than three. Of the four College Cup participants only Florida State and North Carolina have played any games against one another. FSU and UNC have played twice already this season.
One of the reasons for Florida State's success in the NCAA Tournament has been playing in the ACC. The conference continually proves itself to be the best in the nation and with seven of 11 teams making the NCAA Tournament and two in the College Cup nobody can make an argument against the ACC once again in 2006. The ACC has at least one team in the final four for the 24th time in 25 years. The best case scenario played out with UNC and FSU winning so the conference makes up half of the final four teams for the sixth time in ACC history. Teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference have excelled in NCAA Tournament play because of the level of competition. The ACC season is basically like playing in the NCAA Tournament. For example, when FSU takes on Notre Dame Friday, it will be the Seminoles 12th straight game versus a 2006 NCAA Tournament team. No other team has played even seven straight versus NCAA Tournament teams heading into the NCAA semi-finals. Of the four teams still remaining only Florida State and North Carolina have played six in a row and every other team has played five or less. Not only has FSU played 11 straight versus NCAA Tournament teams they have dominated that competition. In the previous 11 games versus NCAA Tournament teams leading up to the semi-finals FSU posted a 7-2-2 record.
Consecutive games versus
NCAA Tournament Teams
Florida State 11
Notre Dame 5
Florida State is not near to being mentioned in the same breath as the University of North Carolina but when the question is who are the two most successful ACC teams, FSU would be mentioned behind the Tar Heels. The last time an ACC team besides North Carolina or FSU went to the College Cup was back in 1992 when Duke made its lone appearance. In just four seasons Florida State has been to three College Cups while the rest of the ACC, minus UNC of course, has combined to go to four in NCAA Tournament history. Virginia and Duke are the only other ACC teams that have gone to the College Cup since 1990 and neither has been in over 20 years. The Seminoles and Tar Heels faced in last year's quarterfinals and have played in three of the last six ACC Championship finals as well. The two schools lead the ACC in all-time NCAA Tournament wins and winning percentage and they are the only two schools to make to the third round of the NCAA Tournament in three of the last four seasons.
ACC College Cup Teams
School App. Last Time
UNC 23 2006
FSU 3 2006
NCST 2 1989
Duke 1 1992
UVA 1 1991
MR. NOVEMBER Florida State head coach Mark Krikorian has proven he can win anywhere and at any time but if you have to choose one time of the year to really excel it would be in November. Obviously because that is conference and NCAA Tournament time and if you are playing well in November your team is playing for a title. With Florida State's win over Clemson in the quarterfinals Krikorian raised his record at FSU to 9-2-2 in November for a .769 winning percentage. Before he came to FSU the Seminoles were 13-15-4 in November for a .496 winning percentage. Krikorian knows how to win at the most crucial time of the year and that pre-dates Florida State. In his 12-year coaching career Krikorian is now 29-10-2 in the month of November for a .732 winning percentage. That kind of record in the most crucial month of the season goes a long way to explain Krikorian's two National Championships, four NCAA semi-final appearances and one other round of 16 appearance. In just two seasons at FSU he is more than proving his success at Franklin Pierce and Hartford translates inside the toughest conference in America. Krikorian is the first FSU coach to lead his team to back-to-back NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals and the first to lead FSU to three or more wins in back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. If Krikorian is able to coach FSU past Clemson this Friday he will try to do something neither he nor FSU has ever done and that is win a game in December.
Krikorian in November
Franklin Pierce 8-3-0
Florida State 9-2-2
WE NEEDED THAT The NCAA Tournament is tough and that is the way it should be but things got a little tougher for FSU in the NCAA Quarterfinals. After 6-0 and 3-1 wins to open the tournament, Florida State shutout Illinois to move into the quarterfinals. Facing an unseeded Clemson team that had scored just one goal in 330 minutes of NCAA play, FSU found itself trailing 1-0 at half. It was the first time Florida State trailed in an NCAA Tournament game this season and the Seminoles responded. Selin Kuralay tied the match less than 10 minutes out of the locker room and then Becky Edwards sealed the win in the 63rd minute. It was just the second time in FSU's NCAA Tournament history that the Seminoles won a game that they trailed at any point. The only other time FSU had a come-from-behind win in the NCAA Tournament was in 2003, which was also a College Cup season for FSU. That year the Seminoles fell behind 1-0 to Auburn in a second round match. FSU scored the equalizer just 34 seconds into the second half and then won the match in the 102nd minute. Heading into a game versus a Notre Dame team that has scored 82 goals, FSU will be thankful it had a taste of trailing in a game before the team made it to Cary.
LUCKY 13? Florida State's top offensive weapon is showing her worth in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Last season Selin Kuralay had an All-American type season with 16 goals, nine assists, 41 points, six game-winning goals and three game-winning assists. Despite her record-breaking offensive season, the Australian striker had just one goal and one assist in five NCAA Tournament games on the way to the 2005 College Cup. Her lone goal came versus Illinois as she staked FSU to a 1-0 lead. In seven postseason games last year at the ACC and NCAA Tournaments, Kuralay scored two goals and had two assists. This season she is proving how good she is at the most crucial time of the year. In Florida State's four NCAA Tournament games Kuralay already has two goals and two assists. That is double the offensive production she produced in the 2005 College Cup run for Florida State. She hasn't just produced more offense she has come through in bigger situations as well. Both of her assists this NCAA Tournament have been game-winners. She set up the first goal versus Jacksonville and then assisted on India Trotter's eventual game winner versus Cal. In the Clemson game her goal just four minutes into the second half brought FSU level with Clemson and sparked new life into the team allowing the Seminoles to stage just the second comeback win in the program's NCAA Tournament history. In three of the four NCAA Tournament wins for FSU Kuralay has assisted on game-winners in two matches and brought FSU back from a deficit in one other match. Her goal versus Clemson gave her 13 on the season, which is almost double the amount of goals any other Seminole has scored this season. In two years Kuralay has 29 goals and she is just the second Seminole to ever score 13 or more goals in back-to-back years and she is already the second-most prolific goal scorer in team history, The only other FSU player to do that was Cindy Schofield who had 17 goals in 2001 and 15 goals in 2002. The goal also moved Kuralay into another special group. She is just the fourth player in program history with 70 career points. Kuralay is now just six points away from moving into second place on FSU's career list for points.
WHY SHOULD IT BE ANY DIFFERENT The Florida State offense stole the headlines opening weekend of the 2006 NCAA Tournament but versus Illinois the Seminoles continued to do what they have done best all season and that is shut people down. FSU blanked Illinois for the team's 14th shutout of the season as the team held the Fighting Illini to just one shot on goal. The Seminole's have played stellar defense all season long and the team's record number of shutouts and 0.62 GAA are proof of that. So far in the NCAA Tournament the Seminoles have allowed just two goals and recorded two shutouts in the same NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. In the team's last 10 NCAA Tournament games dating back to 2004 FSU has recorded four shutouts so the squad's excellent defensive play in the NCAA's is really nothing new. Only Notre Dame will enter the College Cup having allowed fewer goals in the NCAA Tournament than FSU and the Fighting Irish have allowed just one less. Only North Carolina and UCLA have given up more than two goals in the NCAA Tournament. The entire group at the College Cup has been impressive on both sides of the ball. Three of the four teams have recorded shutouts in half of their matches and three others come to the Cup with a double digit goal differential in their first four matches. Every team has scored at least 12 goals in the four games and none have allowed more than five.
When FSU surrendered three goals to the Blue Devils it was a low point of the season for the defense especially since all of them came in the second half. One was a late goal with Kelly Rowland playing in the net but still it was and still is the most goals allowed by the FSU defense all season. Since that game against the Blue Devils FSU has responded. In the nine games since the Duke loss FSU is 6-1-2 and has allowed just four goals in 858 minutes for a 0.42 GAA. The Seminoles have outscored teams 18-4 in that nine game span and what is so impressive about this run is the teams FSU has played. Of those nine games two came in the regular season versus NCAA Tournament teams, three came in the ACC Tournament and four others came in the NCAA Tournament. The only teams that have scored on FSU in the last eight matches are North Carolina who scored twice, Clemson and Cal who got on the board after the Bears were down 3-0. During these last nine matches FSU has recorded six shutouts and scored the game's first goal six times. The only times FSU has failed to score the first goal of the game in the last nine matches came in 0-0 ties with Clemson and Wake Forest and the 2-1 victory over the Tigers in the last match, which gives FSU a 1-0-2 record even when they fail to score first.
Kelly Rowland is leaving a legacy at Florida State that is going to be hard for any other player to touch. Her 87 consecutive starts and 94 total career starts should hold up for some time. With Sarah Wagenfuhr missing starts due to commitments with the US U-20 National Team and Katrin Schmidt missing a start in 2005 on senior night it could be a long time before anyone challenges Rowland's start records. As a defender she holds FSU records for goals (14), assists (17) and points (45). The only defender at FSU has who has shown the ability to attack like Rowland is Katrin Schmidt but the left back is three goals and five assists short of where Rowland was through the first two seasons of her career. One area that no player will ever threaten when it comes to Rowland is her unselfishness. After three seasons establishing herself as one of the best center backs in America, Rowland has played forward and midfielder this season. She moved from a position where she had excelled for three years to a spot of need and as usual she has done nothing but play spectacularly. Since the Florida Atlantic game Rowland has played three games up top before settling in to her role as a defensive midfielder. In these 20 games she has scored four goals and assisted on two others. In this stretch she is tied with Selin Kuralay for the most game-winning goals (3). She is one of just five players with double digit points in these 20 games.
Not surprisingly she has been at her best when the Seminoles have needed her the most. In the 2006 NCAA Tournament she is second on the team in goals and points and she has two of FSU's four game-winners. Coming into 2006 Rowland had never scored an NCAA Tournament game-winning goal but in three games as a senior she has already secured wins over Jacksonville and Illinois with goals. With her productive start to this year's NCAA Tournament Rowland has moved up the career lists at Florida State. She is now second all-time in NCAA Tournament points (11), goals (4) and game-winning goals (2). Rowland is just the fourth Seminole to ever record multiple game-winning goals in an NCAA Tournament.
GWG In An NCAA Tournament
India Trotter 3 2005
Kelly Rowland 2 2006
Leah Gallegos 2 2003
Cindy Schofield 2 2002
If there was ever any question to how special seniors India Trotter and Kelly Rowland are there are really just two categories you need to look at. What these two players have done when it comes to career starts and NCAA Tournament play is a testament to how much they have done for this program. Trotter and Rowland are first and second all-time at FSU for career starts with a combined 187. The only other Seminole to ever start 90 games was Amber Tollefson. No other FSU player has ever even started more than 83 games besides that trio. No two players in the same class have ever started more games than Trotter and Rowland who bested the record of 169 combined starts set by Tollefson and Kristin Boyce from 2000-2003. The other are where these two have been dominant is in the NCAA Tournament. Trotter and Rowland have already played in two College Cups and they will finish their careers in a third. The postseason success FSU has experienced the last four years has a lot to do with these two players. Trotter and Rowland are either first or second in career NCAA Tournament goals, points and game-winning goals. The pair has 26 career NCAA Tournament points, 11 goals and six game-winning goals. What they have combined to do on the biggest stage has never been done by any FSU players. No two Seminoles, regardless of the years they played, have ever combined for more than 20 points, 10 goals or five game-winners in NCAA Tournament play.
ARE YOU EXPERIENCED?
When Florida State played Connecticut in the 2003 College Cup the team really had no idea what to expect. It was just the third time FSU had played in an NCAA Tournament and the Seminoles handled being just one game away from the national championship pretty well playing with UConn most of the way despite falling 2-0. Three years later it is a completely different story. The Seminoles will enter Friday's game with Notre Dame with nine players who have started in a College Cup match and two others, Kelly Rowland and India Trotter, who have started two in their careers. Eight of FSU's 11 starters Friday will have experience starting in last year's semi-final versus UCLA. The only players who may possibly start who did not play in last year's NCAA Tournament game are Becky Edwards, Onnie Trusty, Kirsten van de Ven, Toby Ranck or Iraia Iturregi. Only two of those players are freshmen and Toby Ranck has played in a College Cup in 2003.
TURNING IT ON One of the biggest question marks surrounding the Seminoles entering the 2006 NCAA Tournament centered on the team's offense. FSU scored just 28 regular season goals, the second-lowest total in the history of the program. If the 2006 NCAA Tournament is any indication, those troubles are a thing of the past. With 12 goals in the first four games, FSU has scored more goals so far than the team did in all five matches on its run to the College Cup last year. The nine goals FSU scored in two games opening weekend were more than the team had scored in the previous eight games combined coming into postseason play. It all started with a school postseason record six goals versus Jacksonville and then continued to roll with three more versus Cal, all of which were scored in the first 27 minutes of that match. The Seminoles offensive outburst is a positive sign. The last time FSU scored nine or more goals in any NCAA Tournament was in 2003 and that team ended up playing in the College Cup as well. Something can be said for scoring early building confidence. Versus Jacksonville FSU scored the quickest NCAA Tournament goal in school history and then followed with five more over the course of the match. Versus Cal, Florida State tallied three goals in the first 27 minutes of that match and cruised to another win. Overall, in four NCAA Tournament games the Seminoles have scored eight first half goals of which six have come before the clock reached 30:00.
COUNT ON THEM When it came time to move into the NCAA Tournament the Seminoles turned to their most reliable offensive players and they delivered. Florida State's top two scorers over the last two seasons both stepped up their games so far in the NCAA's. India Trotter and Selin Kuralay have accounted for three goals, two assists, a game-winning goal and two game winning assists. While Katrin Schmidt stole the show opening night versus Jacksonville, Trotter and Kuralay were the heavy hitters in the second round win over Cal. Kuralay put FSU on top just 6:52 into the match with a jaw-dropping strike and then she sealed FSU's win when her picture perfect assist which led to Trotter's eventual game-winning goal. Kuralay then scored her 13th goal of the season to equalize the match versus Clemson in the quarterfinals. Kelly Rowland, the most experienced starter on the team, has played a huge role as well. The defender-turned-midfielder scored the first goal versus JU three minutes in then assisted on the second goal of the match. She followed that up by scoring the lone goal versus Illinois. Those five points are more than the three Rowland totaled in five NCAA Tournament games in 2005 and the two game-winners were the first of her career in the postseason.
WE SCORE, WE WIN If you are a believer in signs, here is one to look for Friday. Florida State has never lost an NCAA Tournament game in which they have scored a goal. All five of FSU's NCAA Tournament losses have been shutouts for their opponents. FSU's five shutout losses in the NCAA Tournament have come versus Clemson (2), UConn (2) and UCLA. The Tigers blanked FSU in 2000 and 2001. The Huskies recorded clean sheets against the Seminoles in 2002 and 2003. In 2005 it was UCLA in the College Cup. In 2004 BC kept FSU off the board in a 0-0 tie in which the Eagles advanced on PK's. While scoring seems obvious in correlation to winning, it isn't as closely related as one may think. All-time, FSU is just 25-36-7 in games where the team has scored one goal for a .419 winning percentage so that fact FSU has never lost when scoring a goal in the NCAA Tournament is a big improvement. The stat is a little misleading though. In FSU's 16 NCAA Tournament wins, 14 of the victories have come when FSU has scored two or more goals. The only times Florida State scored just one goal in a postseason game was in a 1-0 win over Auburn in 2001 and a 1-1 tie with North Carolina last year.