Nov. 5, 2003
Cary, NC - It wasn't turn back the clock night at the ACC Women's Soccer Championships Wednesday but you can't blame Florida State if they felt like it was 2001 all over again. The Tribe was back in North Carolina, back playing the 12:00 p.m. game and once again involved in a match-up between the second and seventh seeds. Just like they did that year, the Seminoles recorded a win to advance to the ACC semi-finals where they will meet Maryland Friday night at 5:00 p.m.
All-ACC first teamer Leah Gallegos scored both goals for FSU (12-6-1, 4-2-1) in the 2-1 win as they eliminated Wake Forest (10-6-3, 1-4-2) from the championships for the second time in three years. The victory moved Florida State into the semi-finals for the third time in the last four seasons and marked just the second time in school history FSU has beaten Wake Forest.
"We are excited to win but we feel some what fortunate. By no means did we play up to our capabilities today," said head coach Patrick Baker. "Leah finished two very good chances and we knew we weren't going to get many and we talked about creating a few more. We did that in the first half. I am very thankful that we were able to get this win and can now sit back and watch three other games and know we have already punched our ticket into the semi-finals."
The multi-goal game for Gallegos was her school record fifth of the season and she is just the third FSU player to record a multi-goal game in the ACC Championships. She also moved into a tie with Cindy Schofield with six multi-goal games in her career.
"It felt great to score and I was excited I was able to put a few chances away but this was about a team effort," said Gallegos. "They (her teammates) worked so hard to get the ball up to the frontrunners. Without them the goals would have never come about."
"When you play Florida State you have to take care of Gallegos," said Wake Forest head coach Tony da Luz. "If she scores goals, usually you are going to lose. We did a bad job of that today and I think she was a big difference in the game."
Gallegos' two goals moved the sophomore to 16 on the year and she is now just one away from tying Cindy Schofield's single season school record. She is also all alone in third place for career goals at FSU after just 42 games played.
"I just hope I can put away the opportunities I get because that gives this team more of a chance to win games," said Gallegos. "I am really only concerned with this team winning. The goals and records don't mean anything to me if they don't help this team advance."
Neither team recorded a shot in the first half until 15 minutes had run off the clock but the Seminoles had the better part of the play in the first 45:00 from then on. They limited the Demon Deacons to just one shot and frustrated the Wake Forest attack most of the half.
"I want to congratulate Florida State. They did a great job particularly defensively where they didn't give us a lot of great chances," said da Luz. "They totally took us out of our rhythm in the first half."
"Overall we played well defensively. We bent and didn't break for most of the game and that is a credit to our backline and this team," said junior Marion Cagle. "We have allowed just two goals in the last eight games so that says a lot about this team's defending."
Offensively, the Tribe had three great scoring chances on the first 27 minutes but couldn't find a way to break on top until 28:26. The goal sequence started with Camie Bybee one-timing a bouncing clearance from about 35 yards out over the top of the defense. The pass found Gallegos about 16 yards from net and right in the middle of the box. The sophomore put herself in great position as she shielded one defender and lost another with her first touch. She then beat the keeper to the far post.
"The ball was bouncing as it came to me and I just volleyed it over the top," said Bybee. "I heard her (Gallegos) call for the ball so I just tried to hit it her way. Leah put a great move on and beat a couple of defenders. She did a great job of finishing that."
"Camie and I made eye contact and I was letting her know I was going to make a run," said Gallegos. "She spotted me and played a beautiful ball over the top. I got it on my right foot, took a touch and was able to score."
The goal was the first in Gallegos' career at the ACC Championships and the assist was also the first of Bybee's career in ACC Tournament play.
Florida State came back out in the second half and looked to build on its lead in the 63rd minute. Bybee and Gallegos were in on a fantastic chance just 18 minutes in. Bybee played a great diagonal ball over the top of the defense to Jez Ratliff who was making a run down the right flank. Her endline service beat the keeper and Gallegos was waiting to just tap it into the empty net before a great defensive play by Taylor Toombs kept the game at 1-0. The freshman forward just got her foot inside of Gallegos and poked the ball away before she could finish the chance.
Just five minutes later the Tribe and Gallegos capitalized and moved out to a 2-0 lead. Marion Cagle, who just began taking corners for the Tribe in the last few weeks, sent an out-swinger into the box in the 69th minute. The ball was cleared out to the top of the 18 where Gallegos was perched on the right side. The sophomore one-timed a shot that was heading to the far post but deflected off a Wake defender and changed direction on its way into the net.
"I actually thought I didn't hit it well. It was supposed to be an in-swinger but ended up swinging away from the goal," said Cagle. "Thankfully we have technical and talented forwards who can get on the end of a corner like that and finish it.
"Coach had been telling me to wrap around on corners and get to the top of the box. I did just what he said and it worked today," said Gallegos. "Luckily that ball came out right to my feet and the shot deflected off on of their defenders."
The Demon Deacons countered less than three minutes later as Alena Thom scored her first goal of the year. The goal came off a counter and was just the second FSU allowed in over 720 minutes.
"We screwed up a free kick and they countered and it became 2-1," said Baker. "From then on the game changed. From that point on we just held on. That team (Wake Forest) is so good in possession and you saw that at the end of the game. We gave the ball away and with a good team like Wake you aren't going to see the ball for a while if you do that."
The goal seemed to inspire Wake as they out shot the Tribe 8-5 in the second period and continued to put pressure on the Seminole back four in search of the equalizer.
"You have to give Tony and his players credit," said Baker. "They really came out in the second half and changed the complexion of the game. They played with more energy. They got stuck in on tackles and at that point the game changed."
Despite the renewed attack, FSU not only weathered the storm but had a few more opportunities to extend the lead. The most dangerous chance came in the 89th minute when Julia Schnugg picked off a clearance deep in Wake's end. The freshman sent a perfect ball to Gallegos in front of the face of the goal but the sophomore couldn't complete the hat trick as she mishit the ball over the crossbar.
"I should have stuck that one but it is still really exciting that I was able show well on this stage but even more so since I was able to help the team," said Gallegos. "We didn't want to lose the first game after that experience we had last year when Maryland knocked us out at home. So it was big for me to help this team."
The game Gallegos referred to took place in the opening round of last year's ACC Tournament. The Tribe was hosting the event and the game was being broadcast by the Sunshine Network. The Terps eliminated FSU 4-2 that night and when the teams step out Friday at 5:00, it will be the first time they have met in the postseason since that game.
For more information on the 2003 ACC Championships semi-finals and the Seminole soccer team, please log on to www.seminoles.com, the official athletic department website for Florida State University.