Nov. 1, 2006
Cary, NC - For the first time in 12 seasons Florida State and Duke will meet in the ACC Championships when the teams take the field in Cary, NC tonight at 5:30 p.m. The two schools have played 12 times with Duke leading the series 7-3-2. The teams met as recently as 11 days ago when the Blue Devils handed FSU a 3-1 defeat, the team's worst loss of the season. It was the worst regular season defeat for FSU since a 4-1 loss to North Carolina September 22, 2005, a stretch of 24 regular season matches.
"I think we have a different mindset going into this match based on what happened just over a week ago," said three-time All-ACC first team selection India Trotter. "There is some motivation there because they beat us. We also know that what happened last time is in the past. This is the start of a whole new season.
"You always learn a lesson when you play and even more so when you lose. It sharpens your character. It was a good lesson for us to learn. More importantly we need to apply that lesson when we step out tonight."
The three goals surrendered to Duke were the most allowed by Florida State this season. Coming into the Blue Devil game the FSU backline had allowed just five goals in eight ACC games. After taking a 1-0 lead into half, FSU gave up a goal just over one minute into the second half and then the eventual game-winner in the 77th minute. The Blue Devils tacked on a goal late in the game with FSU pushing for the equalizer.
"All of us in the back are excited to play Duke and their talented attacking players again," said Sarah Wagenfuhr. "It is another chance to prove ourselves as a defense. We are going to defend hard and play for each other.
"At this time of the year giving up goals isn't an option. Libby (Gianeskis) and I were talking and we both take it personally when we get scored on. That is a motivation for us."
While the Seminole defense has been stellar all season, the FSU offense has struggled finishing numerous chances. This is just the second time in the history of the program that Florida State will enter an ACC Tournament having scored less than 30 goals in the regular season. After scoring 10 goals in a five game stretch leading up to the season finale versus Clemson, FSU was shutout by the Tigers marking the third time the Seminoles were involved in a 0-0 tie this season.
"We have confidence as an offense," said Mami Yamaguchi. "We are creating chances. We need to do a better job finishing to score a few goals. We have talked about what we need to do. We need to concentrate more and be more confident around the goal. We need to expect to score goals. We are excited to get back out on the field. I feel like if we score one goal there are so many more to follow."
With the opening of the ACC Tournament Wednesday, the Seminoles are well aware they are at a time of the season where "one-and-done" is on the tip of everyone's tongue. For the 2006 senior class they know that better than anyone. Trips to the College Cup in 2003 and 2005 were sandwiched around first round exits in the 2004 ACC and NCAA Tournament both in penalty kick defeats.
"A lot changes at this time of season," said Trotter. "As an offense we know we have to do better around the goal because there are no more ties. You hate having your season come down to penalty kicks."
"It is definitely a different mentality now than it has been all season," said Kelly Rowland. "Especially for the seniors because we know every time we step out it could be our last game. I think the team knows that if we don't come out and play with everything we have it could be our season. That is the mindset we need."
Florida State enters the ACC Tournament quarterfinals owning a 3-1-2 record since 2000 in the championship's first game. The only teams that have fared better in the tournament's opening game over the last six years are North Carolina (4-1-1) and their first opponent Duke who is 4-1-1 over that span. The Seminoles are tied for the second-most championship game appearances since 2000 but haven't played in that final game since a 3-2 loss to North Carolina in 2003.
"I think there is always motivation to play for a championship but for us it is more about playing they way we are capable of playing," said Rowland. "We are only focused on Duke right now. They beat us pretty good and we know they are more than capable of knocking us out. We will take it one game at a time and focus on the opponent in front of us."
Wednesday's opening game will be played at the SAS Soccer Complex in Cary, NC. All the games from the ACC Women's Soccer Championship can be viewed on ACC Select and live stats will also be available via GameTracker. For more information on how to follow the Seminoles, please log on to the official athletic website for Florida State University at Seminoles.com.