Sept. 26, 2003
Tallahassee, FL - Upsets at the Seminole Soccer Complex on Friday nights are nothing new to head coach Patrick Baker and the Seminole soccer team. In Friday night games, the Tribe has defeated North Carolina, Florida, Texas A&M, Clemson and now you can add 14th-ranked Maryland to the list. The Seminoles (5-4-0, 1-0-0) fell behind 1-0 and then staged a two-goal comeback as they opened their ACC season with a 2-1 win over the Terrapins (5-3-1, 0-1-0) in front of the fifth-largest crowd in complex history (1,116). The victory raised Baker's record to 14-1-2 at home on Friday nights and 5-1-0 versus ranked teams.
The win was the fourth in a row for FSU and the teams second in a row against a nationally ranked opponent. After starting the season 1-4, the Tribe is now 5-4-0 and the win over Maryland was the team's third-straight conference win over the Terps. This is the first time in FSU history that the Seminoles have ever defeated an ACC foe in three straight regular season meetings and the first time ever FSU has defeated ranked opponents in back-to-back games. It is also the third year that Florida State has won its conference opener.
"I told our team to come as far as we have after falling to 1-4 in Kansas is just remarkable," said Baker. "This is a great credit to the players. They were at rock bottom at 1-4 and they have fought their way back to 5-4. They have put themselves at 1-0 in the best women's soccer conference in the country."
Maryland started the scoring just 4:38 in to the game as Lindsay Givens got the Seminoles with her dangerous throw-in. The defender's throw found surprise starter Mallory Mahar who lofted one over starting keeper Joy McKenzie (4-3-0) for a 1-0 lead. The goal was the first of the year for Mahar and marked the fourth time this season that Maryland has scored in the opening five minutes of a game.
"We had some jitters in the first few minutes and we know how dangerous Lindsay's (Givens) throws are. It was a mistake on our part and it happens. It happened to me last year," said Katie Beal. "Playing that first conference game in front of a huge home crowd is always a little nerve-wrecking. We responded though and that is what this team always does."
"After we fell behind, there was no panic on our side. We knew we were just going to have to work that much harder," said Leah Gallegos. "We were determined not to lose tonight and we came out with the goal of accepting nothing less than a win or putting forth the best effort we could possibly give. When they scored, we got right back to the center circle and got after it."
The Tribe did get after it immediately and the 1,116 fans didn't have to wait long to see FSU even things up as they equalized just 4:58 later. The goal came off a corner kick clearance. Senior Amber Tollefson found Kelly Rowland in the center of the Terp box. The freshman blasted a header that seemed to catch starting keeper Kristen Barnhill by surprise. Barnhill punched the ball out and the Maryland defense then sent a slow clearance that came rolling out to Gallegos. The Los Angeles, CA native one-timed the shot through Camie Bybee's legs and past the Terp keeper.
"It came off a set piece. Amber (Tollefson) sent in a great ball and Kelly (Rowland) blasted a header at the keeper," said Gallegos. "She was able to get to it and the clearance was coming right towards me. I just felt the goal. I made sure to keep my composure and not rush the shot. I looked at Camie (Bybee) and she let it slip through her legs and it made it into the back of the net."
The goal was the fifth of the year for the sophomore who now leads the team. With at least 10 games left in the season, Gallegos is now just two goals shy of the seven she scored last year. The goal was also the fourth of her ACC career. All five of her 2003 goals have come in the last seven matches.
"Individually I have been feeling great but I don't think it is about the goals," said Gallegos. "It is about my work ethic and giving everything I have every time out. That is a good game for me. It has nothing to do with goals and assists, it is about giving my all."
The game remained even until 70 minutes in when FSU cashed in on a long throw-in of their own. Rowland launched her throw into the front of the box on the right-hand side. Bybee flicked it on frame beating Barnhill and staking the Tribe to a 2-1 lead.
The goal was Bybee's second game-winner of the year and the 19th of her career. She has now scored four goals and recorded three assists in the last four games. It was also the second time Rowland and Bybee have combined for a goal off a throw-in.
After going in front, FSU tried to avoid a repeat performance of the late equalizer they gave up versus No. 24 Ole Miss, which sent the game into overtime and the defense did just that. In perhaps its best performance of the year, the FSU backline stymied Maryland at every turn.
"I can't say enough about this team. All the credit goes to the players," said Baker. "The way they have responded since Kansas and then after falling behind tonight is a credit to them. (Mallory) Mahar hadn't been starting but she has a wonderful heading presence. She gets the start tonight and sticks the header goal early on. We stuck to it, manufactured the equalizer and went into halftime tied up.
"This time we learned a lesson though after taking the lead. We didn't manage the clock well versus Ole Miss and gave up a late equalizer. We learned and tonight we did a much better job of working the clock with the lead."
The Seminoles held on to the win by holding the Terps to a season-low 11 shots and limited UMD's top three shooters to three total shots. Ali Andrezejwski, Kimmy Francis and Katie Ludwig were averaging 10 shots a game but the Tribe defense held Francis, the defending ACC Player of the Week, without a shot and limited Ludwig to just one.
"The back four was amazing tonight," said McKenzie. "Maryland hardly got a shot off and the ones they did went wide or high. They capitalized on a great throw and good header that I would obviously love to have back but other than that, I think our defense played one of their best games of the season."
"Across the board, from front to back, we played really well," said Beal. "I don't think they had many chances in the run of play, which is a credit to team defending. Everyone worked so hard at defending tonight."
After allowing two goals in the first three games of the year, the Tribe limited its opponent to one goal for the sixth straight game. Playing one of the best midfields they will see all year, the FSU defense was stellar and McKenzie was forced to make just four saves all night as her GAA fell to a season low 1.46. The win was the first ACC victory of the Texan's career.
"Moving Kelly Rowland into the center of our defense with Katie Beal was a step in the right direction for us," said Baker. "I really am proud of the way she stood up in the first conference game of her career."
"It is nice to get the first ACC win of my career and it is nice to get above .500 at 5-4," said McKenzie. "It feel great to open the conference season with a win on our field. The game was so much more intense that I imagined but I feel like I was prepared for tonight."
This is the third consecutive season FSU has started conference play at 1-0. After going 0-6-0 in ACC openers from 1995-2000, the Tribe has come to life under Baker in the first game of the conference schedule. Not only have the Seminoles done well in openers but also they are now 10-10-2 in all ACC games since the 2000 season. That is compared to a 3-30-2 record in ACC games in the 90's.
"Two of the three conference openers we won have been at home on a Friday night and there is just something so special about playing here on Friday nights," said Baker. "I think we have gotten better as a team every year but so has everyone around us. In 2000, we were winning big games outside of the ACC but we didn't do a good enough job in the conference. We have tried to move up that ladder and feel fortunate we have done that.
"One of the toughest things is to remain in the upper half of the conference year-in and year-out. That is something we are working on. We took just one step tonight but it was a good step."
Florida State will now play five of its next six on the road starting with a trip to USF Wednesday, October 1 at 7:00 p.m. The Seminoles are 5-0-1 lifetime versus the Bulls but all five wins have come by just one goal and two games have gone to double overtime. For more information on the 2003 Florida State soccer team, please visit FSU's official athletic home on the web at www.seminoles.com.