Sept. 30, 2006
Tallahassee, FL - Coming off a 110-minute double OT tie with No. 8 Virginia Thursday, the third-ranked FSU soccer team (7-1-1, 1-1-1) returns to action Sunday at 1:00 p.m. The Seminoles will host Virginia Tech (5-4-1, 1-2-0) in just the fourth-ever meeting between the schools and for just the third time as ACC rivals. The last time the two teams met FSU scored three second half goals to down the Hokies 3-0.
FSU has not only won all three games in the series, they have yet to allow Virginia Tech to even score a goal in any of the games. The Hokies are one of just two opponents Florida State has played at least three times and not allowed a goal to in the history of the series. The other team is Stetson. After two 1-0 wins in the first two series meetings, FSU won last season's match 3-0 scoring more goals in the one game than they did in the previous two matches combined.
The Seminole's defense has been stellar as of late. The backline and keeper Ali Mims held Virginia scoreless for 110:00 and shutout NC State the previous match. The last time FSU allowed a goal was versus North Carolina a span which covers 206:56.
"We feel confident as a unit in the back," said FSU center back Libby Gianeskis. "The communication has gotten better and better. We are doing a good job playing together and passing out of the back. We are playing very solidly at the moment."
"The defense is the backbone of our team," said pre-season All-America Selin Kuralay. "If we didn't have the strength we have in the backline, the team would really be suffering right now. We have gotten away with a few wins because of our defense. We need to start to help them out pretty soon because in the ACC teams will start to pick out our mistakes. We are putting the backline under too much pressure and not possessing the ball enough. The defense and Ali (Mims) have done an awesome job now the rest of us need to give a little more to start generating more attack."
With the 0-0 tie versus Virginia, FSU has already shutout five teams in nine games this year. The team's GAA has dropped to 0.54 while Florida State has allowed just two goals in the last 611:08 of action. The two ACC shutouts are already just one shy of the number of clean sheets FSU posted in 10 ACC games last season.
"Shutouts are a total team effort so that speaks to how well we are playing all over the field this season," said senior keeper and all-time shutout record holder Ali Mims. "We got a shutout in the Virginia game and we were proud of that but we would have rather got the win. We have to capitalize on our shutouts. It is a testament to the four players in front of me and how hard they have worked all year long. If I come out to close out an angle, I know the defenders will be there to cover for me. There have been a lot of saves that came from great team defending and all of our commitment to keep the ball out of the back of the net."
Offensively things have been a little more difficult. Florida State was shutout by Virginia marking the first time the team was held scoreless since a loss to UCLA in the College Cup. The last time Florida State was held without a goal in the regular season came September 29, 2005 when the Cavaliers once again held FSU without a goal. In fact, three of the last four times FSU has been shutout, it has been Virginia that has held the Seminoles scoreless.
"I think we still haven't really found the right combinations," said Kuralay of the offense. "We haven't progressed as a group quite as easily as we did last year. We are getting a little frustrated because it isn't clicking. Our communication needs to be a bit better. We need to develop a better understanding for each other. Improving your offense in the middle of ACC play is tough. Defensively we have been really strong and we need to pick it up in the attack a bit."
"I don't think there is any frustration with us in the back due to what is going on offensively," said Gianeskis. "When we don't score goals that goes on all of us because defenders are a big part of the attack as well. We need to do a better job of playing balls forward and making the right pass when our attackers are timing their runs. It is a collective thing that we all need to do better and then the goals will start to come."
Sunday's game will be broadcast live via an Internet audio stream available at Seminoles.com and Game Tracker will be available for the match as well The FSU/Virginia Tech match is scheduled for a 1:00 p.m. start and there is no admission charge. The game will be played at the Seminole Soccer Complex on the campus of Florida State University.