Aug. 20, 2003
Tallahassee, FL - A constant rain didn't put a damper on one of the best days of practice of the 2003 preseason for No. 15 Florida State. The final two-a-day before the team takes the field Friday night delighted the coaching staff as the team preformed well in fitness in the morning and then scrimmaged for over 45 minutes on the game field Wednesday night.
"Looking back on it, today was our most productive day since we started, which is great," said head coach Patrick Baker. "We have stressed stepping out each day and just trying to become a little bit better. We did that plus a little bit more today."
The morning session reminded many of the players of three-a-days for more than one reason. First off, the session began at 7:00 a.m. just like in three-a-days and secondly the fitness portion included running the Cooper Test for the second time since preseason started. Every player who ran the test both times improved on their time, which thrilled Baker.
"We retested the Cooper again this morning and every player did better if not considerably better, which was a confidence booster for individual players. It also seemed to lift the spirits of the group collectively," said Baker. "We struggled with finishing during pattern play and we worked on that today and were able to finish with some pretty good stuff. We really cleaned some stuff up around the face of the goal."
In the afternoon scrimmage junior Jez Ratliff scored two of the three goals and sophomore Leah Gallegos also scored a goal and recorded twp assists. Gallegos' goal came off a ball that was sent in to freshman Julia Schnugg and then cleared out to the Los Angeles native by the defense. Gallegos drove a low liner inside the near post for the first goal of the scrimmage. The second goal started when freshman Rachel McDowell's pass found Gallegos sitting atop the 18. Gallegos slipped the ball in behind the defense to Ratliff who was making a run and she then beat the keeper. The final goal was another collaboration between Gallegos and Ratliff. The sophomore forward hit Ratliff streaking down the left flank where the junior from Oklahoma scored at the near post.
"Because of the heat and our numbers, we haven't been able to go for long stretches in our inter-squad scrimmages but tonight we put in a quality 45 minute half," said Baker. "We were able to test each other with different systems, styles and personnel, which was important leading up to this weekend's preseason matches."
With a game scheduled for Friday, tomorrow's two-a-day will be very light and focus on video and just keeping everyone's legs fresh. In essence, Wednesday night was the last full two-a-day since next week school begins and the team is back to practicing once each afternoon.
"We made it," said Teresa Rivera. "We have worked hard the last two weeks and it is going to pay of for us. I think this team is pretty far along but there is still a ways to go. The games this weekend will give us some great feedback as to what we need to do. It won't be the same as playing Southern Cal and Penn State but it will be helpful."
This weekend will be the first time the team will be able to actually gauge where they are against an opponent wearing a different jersey. It will also afford the team a chance to see how they respond playing Friday and Sunday, which will be a theme early in the 2003 campaign.
"We usually play one preseason game and it comes against Georgia. It is always a good game and it gives us feedback against a division I college soccer team," said Baker. "We don't have that element this year. We ended up losing a regular season game so we felt that we would take advantage of that with two opponents in the preseason. We set up a schedule that would allow us to create what we will see when we play a Friday night game and then turn around and play in the heat Sunday afternoon. It will allow our young group to get used to that considering next weekend will be the biggest opening weekend we have ever had since I have been at Florida State."
"I am looking forward to the two games because it is a chance to see how we stack up against another team," said sophomore Jessica Bell. "Seeing how we respond in different situations and how we work together will be exciting. Our team is so good that we get better each day just practicing against one another but it will be nice to see some new faces on the other side of the ball."
The Tribe will play the Tallahassee United Boys U-16 team Friday, August 22 at 7:00 p.m. at the Seminole Soccer Complex. The squad will take Saturday off and then face United Quest (Georgia) U-18 girl's team Sunday at 4:00 p.m. at the home also.
"These games are going to be good for us," said Rivera. "We are going to get a chance to put into action what we have been working on at practice. Inter-squad scrimmages really take away the element of surprise, which is a huge factor. We know what we are going to do when we play one another but we won't have that advantage this weekend."
Both games this weekend are free to the public and live stats will be available at www.seminoles.com the official athletic website for Florida State University.