Florida State Soccer Season Preview
Aug. 20, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The quest for the first national championship in school history begins Friday, August 21 when the Florida State women's soccer team opens the 2009 season at home against Jacksonville. Entering their 15th season, the Seminoles are packed with talent returning six starters and 14 letterwinners from last year's squad that advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament.
For an inside look at this year's squad, Seminoles.com presents the 2009 Season Outlook featuring video footage and comments from head coach Mark Krikorian.
2009 FSU SOCCER OUTLOOK
Florida State returns six starters and 14 letterwinners from last year's squad that advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive year and for the fifth time in the last six seasons.
The Seminole soccer program celebrates their 15th season as a varsity sport in 2009. Last year marked the ninth straight time that FSU advanced to the NCAA Tournament. In nine overall appearances, Florida State is 24-8-2 in postseason play, good for a .735 winning percentage. FSU already sits with the fifth highest winning percentage and eighth most wins all-time in NCAA history.
Florida State has appeared in the College Cup four times since 2003, while playing in the national championship game in 2007. FSU joins UCLA and Notre Dame with the most College Cup appearances over the last six years.
Coming off their record setting offensive performance in 2007, the Seminoles tallied the second highest point total in school history with 194 points on 64 goals and 66 assists. It marked the second most assists and third most goals in the 14-year history of the program. Defensively, FSU recorded the lowest goals against average (0.63) and fewest goals allowed (15) in school history. The 14 shutouts tied the school record set previously in 2006.
FSU welcomes seven newcomers to Tallahassee in 2009. All seven student-athletes come in as freshmen including French international standout Ines Jaurena and Breezy Hupp who enrolled at FSU back in the spring of 2009.
The Seminoles open the 2009 season with just two seniors on the roster including defender/midfielder Becky Edwards and midfielder Lauren Switzer. It marks the smallest senior class since 2003 which featured Amber Tollefson and Kristin Boyce. Sixteen of the 22 players on this year's roster are listed as either freshmen or sophomores.
For the fourth consecutive year, Florida State was the coaches' pick to finish second in the ACC Preseason Poll as the Seminoles garnered 109 points in 2009. The Seminoles have now been picked to finish in the top four of the ACC in seven of the last eight seasons. It marks the fifth time in the program's 15-year history that FSU has been slated to finish in second place.
Krikorian on the upcoming season:
"When we look at this team, we see quite a young group. It's a group that is very athletic. Many of the players have had a great deal of experience playing with youth national teams and top level club teams. Although we are young, I feel we have an experienced group in many ways. We expect our team to mesh and be highly competitive. I think at the end of the day we have some very solid players here, some very solid pieces and now it's just a matter of putting the pieces together to see what will work best and give us the best chance to win."
The Garnet and Gold will look to build off last year's offensive attack that tallied the second highest point total in school history with 194 points on 64 goals and 66 assists. It also marked the second most assists and third most goals in school history. The Seminoles finished the 2008 season ranked second in the ACC in every major offensive category.
Florida State returns 67.5% (131 of the 194 points) of its total scoring from last year including eight of 10 Seminoles that registered double-digit points. Sophomore forward Tiffany McCarty, the 2008 ACC Freshman of the Year, is the top returning scorer for the Garnet and Gold with 28 points on 11 goals and six assists. She led the team with 73 shots and tied for second with a pair of game-winning goals.
McCarty had an outstanding freshman campaign leading all first-year student-athletes in the ACC in goals, goals per game, shots, shots per game, points and points per game. The Laurel, Md., native set the freshman school record for shots with 73, while ranking in the top 10 in goals and points. McCarty made 20 starts on the year and was one of three freshmen on the squad to appear in all 23 matches. She tallied four multi-point performances in 2008 and finished second on the team with three multi-goal games.
Sixteen different Seminoles contributed with at least one point in 2008, while 14 Seminoles scored at least one goal. A school record 10 Seminoles finished the season with double-digit points. Florida State enters the 2009 season with the team's second leading goal scorer (Tiffany McCarty) and overall assist leader (Lauren Switzer) from a year ago.
Eight of the top 10 most productive offensive seasons have come since 2000, while the top three offensive outputs (2005 - 188 points; 2007 - 233 points; 2008 - 194 points) have come under the direction of head coach Mark Krikorian. Over the last four years with Krikorian at the helm, the Seminoles are averaging over 63 goals and 58 assists.
Krikorian on the attack:
"Once again we are going to have a multi-dimensional attack. I look at who we are returning and I feel we have a pretty good collection of players that have very good attacking qualities. We are also going to be able to vary the attack this year with quick combination plays and the ability to hit the long ball behind opponents, which hopefully will play to our advantage. My hope is that we are going to be able to capitalize on our athletic quality this year."
When it comes to depth, look no further than the midfield where the Seminoles return seven players that appeared in no fewer than 21 of the 23 games played a season ago.
Amanda DaCosta enters her junior campaign having started every game in a Seminole uniform since she arrived on campus in 2007, a span of 50 consecutive starts in the midfield.
Senior Lauren Switzer is coming off her junior year in which she led the team in assists with nine. Three times last year, Switzer recorded a double assist game. The St. Charles, Ill., native finished the year third on the team in points with 19.
Along with DaCosta and Switzer, Tori Huster, Marissa Kazbour, Rachel Lim, Casey Short and Toni Pressley played valuable minutes in the midfield for the Seminoles last year. All seven student-athletes appeared in a combined 158 games registering 26 goals and 36 assists. Huster was one of two Seminole freshmen in 2008 to start every game that she played. Becky Edwards split time last year playing both at the midfield and backline positions.
Krikorian on the midfield:
"In the midfield, we are a very experienced group. Despite the loss of Sanna up front and a core of our defensive unit from last year, the midfield returns in pretty good shape. Depending on how we use Becky Edwards this year will dictate the way we play. As we look at the way things are going to progress through the preseason and into the regular season, I think our midfield will be very, very good."
The backline will have a new look when they hit the field in 2009 with three of the four starters from last year's team departing due to graduation (Sarah Wagenfuhr, Erika Sutton and Katrin Schmidt). Sophomore Ella Stephan is the lone returner as she tallied over 1,800 minutes in 21 starts a season ago.
Senior Becky Edwards is no stranger to the backline as more than half her starts in a Seminole uniform have come as a defender. She was limited to just 17 games in 2008 as she competed with the United States U-20 Women's National Team at the FIFA Youth World Cup in Chile.
The Florida State defense allowed a goal or less in 18 of 23 games last year. The Seminoles were so stingy on the defensive end giving up just 15 goals all season, the fewest goals allowed in school history. FSU finished the year as the ACC leader in fewest goals allowed and second in goals against average (0.63) and shutouts (14). The 14 shutouts tied a school record previously set in 2006.
Krikorian on the backline:
"The key for us is identifying who will be in the backline; putting them there, training them there, realizing that they are going to be some what inexperienced as a group. Last year, we knew we had a great benefit, having all four of those players back for another year. With such an experienced group, we expected to defend well. This year, with the only returner being Ella, it is now a situation where we have to mix and match and find the right combination of players. Ella gained a lot of experience last year and did very well with it. She is going to be counted on to provide some leadership back there but it is our job as coaches to find the right mix of players and train them so they are comfortable playing that position."
Florida State will open the 2009 campaign with what Coach Krikorian hails as "the best group of goalkeepers in the country." Following the graduation of 2008 starter Kate Milstead, the Seminoles enter the season with three goalkeepers vying for the starting job including Kimmy Diaz, Erin McNulty and Kelsey Wys. Diaz, a redshirt junior, has played in seven career games including two postseason appearances. She has three career saves and has not given up a goal in over 173 minutes of action.
McNulty returns in 2009 after redshirting the 2008 season as she competed with the U-20 Canadian National Team in preparation for the U-20 World Cup. McNulty started all 27 games between the posts in 2007 becoming the first freshman goalkeeper in school history to perform such a feat. She finished the season setting freshman single-season records for wins (18), shutouts (8) and GAA (0.94), while sitting second in saves with 84.
Wys comes to Florida State via Coral Springs, Fla., with a wealth of international playing experience. She played for the United States in the 2008 CONCACAF U-17 National Tournament in Trinidad and Tobago and more recently participated in training camp in Boulder, Colo., with the U.S. U-18 squad in July of 2009. Wys is also a pool player for the U.S. U-20 team.
Krikorian on the goalkeepers:
"If there is another team in the country that has a better group of goalkeepers then we have I would be surprised. Erin has come back to us after playing in another Youth World Cup with Canada and doing quite well. Kelsey comes to us as a first semester freshman having a great deal of experience playing in many international contests. Kimmy Diaz has been great. She has improved every year that she has been here and has taken the opportunity every summer to go and train with a different team and continue in her development. I feel very comfortable that we have three goalkeepers that are very, very good. Quite honestly, the challenge for us is going to be in managing those goalkeepers, being fair to them and giving them all an opportunity to play."
Florida State added seven new players, all freshmen, in 2009. This year's class includes three players with national team experience and a PARADE All-American. Now in his fifth year as head coach, Mark Krikorian has welcomed 50 newcomers to the Seminole soccer family.
The Seminoles were recognized by TopDrawerSoccer.com with the fourth best recruiting class in the Atlantic Coast Conference, while two recruits were ranked among the top 100 by the soccer website.
Breezy Hupp got an early start to her collegiate career arriving on campus in January enrolling at Florida State for the spring semester. Hupp took part in off-season conditioning while collecting valuable minutes during the Seminole spring season.
Krikorian on the newcomers:
"We are bringing in a very good freshman class. We have a lot of players who represent a lot of different playing styles, but all of them are quality, elite level players. I feel we have once again done a good job of increasing our pool of depth for competition within this team."
Eleven teams on the 2009 schedule recorded 10 or more wins a season ago. Eleven schools earned a bid to participate in the 2008 NCAA Tournament, while five of those teams played into the third round of the tournament.
Eight of the first 11 matches will be played in Tallahassee, while six of the eight scheduled road opponents in 2009 made a postseason appearance a season ago.
In week three, Florida State welcomes back former assistant coach Erica Walsh to Tallahassee as the Seminoles host 2008 Big Ten champs Penn State on September 4. Two days later, FSU will focus its attention on a Washington State team that finished 11-5-5 last year.
The Garnet and Gold will open the 2009 season at home welcoming the Jacksonville Dolphins to Tallahassee on August 21. It marks the ninth time in 15 years that the Seminoles will open the season in front of the hometown crowd at the Seminole Soccer Complex. FSU is 6-1-1 when beginning the season on its home turf including a streak of three straight victories. The Seminoles defeated UCF 5-0 to open the 2008 slate.
Krikorian on the schedule:
"We are really excited to be playing such a competitive schedule. The ACC in itself gives you a lot of competition, but when you throw in the non-conference schedule that we have put together, I feel our student-athletes will be challenged early on and then prepared as the season progresses. We are going to have a lot of young players playing a lot of minutes in the upcoming season. Through the non-conference schedule, we hope they will be battle tested and use that experience to help them prepare for the ACC schedule and beyond."
For the second year in a row, a Seminole student-athlete was named an NSCAA First Team Scholar All-American. Becky Edwards became the fourth player in school history to earn this prestigious honor joining India Trotter (2005), Katrin Schmidt (2007) and Kirsten van de Ven (2007). Fourteen Seminoles went on to earn ACC Academic Honor Roll accolades during the 2008-09 school year maintaining a 3.0 GPA overall as well as each semester. FSU posted a team GPA of over a 3.0 in each semester.
Despite just two seniors listed on the roster in 2009, Florida State will counter with a group of underclassman loaded with experience. Seven freshmen combined for 92 starts in 2008, while four tallied double-digit points. Tiffany McCarty was second on the team in goals (11) and finished tied for third in assists with six with Jessica Price and Casey Short. Newcomers accounted for 38.7% of the total offensive production a season ago.
Senior defender/midfielder Becky Edwards was named team captain for the 2009 season. She has appeared in 70 games with 64 starts through her first three seasons with the Seminoles compiling more than 6,000 minutes on the pitch.
Of the 14 letterwinners returning for the Seminoles in 2009, 11 started at least one game a season ago. Five of the 11 started at least 18 or more games, while Amanda DaCosta (23), Tori Huster (22) and Ella Stephan (21) started every game they played.
Krikorian on the leadership of this year's team:
"One of the things that are very important to our staff is that the players recognize that they are here for an education first and that they take the academic side of things very seriously. I feel our kids have done very well in the classroom, qualifying for postseason academic awards on a regular basis. A lot of players made the Dean's List and President's List this past year. I do feel their dedication in the classroom does have an effect on their discipline and focus on the field. Eric (Bell) also does a great job of working with the players on developing leadership qualities. It is something we spend a lot of time on and I feel is it good for our players to experience. It really seems to be working."