Reigning Soccer America National Coach of the Year Patrick Baker has established himself as one of the top soccer minds in the nation in his 15 years of coaching and has cemented that reputa-tion over the last five years leading the Florida State program. He took on the job of re-building a young program in Tallahassee in 1999 and after one full season on the job he had Florida State in the Sweet 16 of the 2000 NCAA Tournament. Just three years later his Seminoles were at the programs first ever College Cup as part of the final four in 2003. He has totally reconstructed the FSU pro-gram to not only a force in the ACC, the nation's top soccer conference, but on the national stage as well.
Baker's coaching has elevated his play-ers to unknown levels of success and his teams to the heights of the collegiate soc-cer world. His squads have been to four straight NCAA Tournaments, three Sweet 16's and a final four in the last four seasons. For the first time ever Florida State finished the 2003 campaign ranked in the top five by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), Soccer Buzz and Soc-cer Times with a program high No. 4 rank-ing from the NSCAA.
Florida State's run to the College Cup in 2003 was just another example of Baker's mastery in the NCAA Tournament. His postseason success at Florida State has been one of the major hallmarks of Baker's ten-ure. While 2003 was just the program's fourth ever trip to the NCAA Tournament, they have already been to the Sweet 16 three times and advanced to the College Cup under Baker's guidance. Only eight of 297 schools in America have been to three of the last four Sweet 16's and Baker's Semi-noles are one of those elite eight teams. FSU is the only school of the eight that made its first NCAA Tournament appearance during that four-year span. The Tribe under Baker is one of the more remarkable postseason stories. A Baker-coached FSU team has never lost a first round NCAA match in and the team is 9-4 all-time in their four NCAA Tour-nament appearances for a .692 winning per-centage. That is one of the best winning percentage of all-time in the tournament. In the Tribe's first four NCAA trips they have averaged two wins per tournament appear-ance, which is the sixth-best average of wins per appearance in NCAA Tournament his-tory. While all of that success is impressive, it isn't even close to the most astounding number when it comes to success at the NCAA Tournament under Baker. Florida State's nine wins in its first four trips ranks third all-time for wins in a team's first four trips to the NCAA's. Only North Carolina and Notre Dame have more victories in their first four postseason appearances than FSU.
Baker's coaching prowess isn't only il-lustrated by what his teams have accom- plished in the postseason but also by the way his players have flourished under his command. Junior Leah Gallegos became FSU's first-ever first team All-American and consensus All-American in 2003. Seminole players never received any type of All-Ameri-can honor before Baker arrived, but Between 2000-2002 FSU players were named either All-Americans or freshman All-Americans on seven occasions. Then in 2003 Seminole players were honored with 12 more All-American awards. Of the 61 postseason honors won by Florida State players, 59 have come in Baker's five years in Tallahassee.
The overall turn-around of the program that has taken place in Tallahassee in the five years since Patrick Baker arrived is amazing. Baker's success has established his program as one of the ACC's best and the numbers prove he is one of the best in the ACC as well. Only one ACC coach (Anson Dorrance at North Carolina) can match Baker's accom-plishments in the regular season, the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. Since taking over their ACC program, no coaches other than Dorrance and Baker have guided their team to more ACC Champion-ship finals and none have been to a College Cup except for Baker and Dorrance. Baker is one of only three coaches to go four straight NCAA Tournaments and three Sweet 16's in the last four years. He is third in ACC Tournament winning percentage, second in overall wins, fourth in overall winning per-centage and tied for second among all ACC coaches in ACC Tournament wins. The Tribe's winning percentage has gone from .421 in the first four years of the program's existence to .615 in Baker's tenure and only one ACC team (North Carolina) has more program wins than Florida State since 2000. Baker has changed FSU's fortunes inside the ACC by elevating the .125 lifetime ACC win-ning percentage to .575 in just three years.
Baker's teams haven't only been suc-cessful they have been record setting. He has coached all four of the highest scoring teams in Florida State history. His Seminole squads hold records for wins, winning per-centage, best ACC winning percentage, most ACC wins, most goals scored and few-est goals allowed. Every offensive career and single season record except for one is held by a Seminole who was coached by Baker and his teams have 15 of the 17 all-time wins over ranked opponents.
On top of turning the program's fortunes around on the field, Baker also set goals to improve the program in recruiting and in attendance and he has exceeded expectations in both areas. From 2000 to 2003, only seven schools brought in four recruiting classes with a combined higher ranking than FSU. Florida State is also one of just nine schools that was able to bring in four straight top 25 classes from 2000-2003. For the second time in three years, Baker's 2003 recruit-ing class was ranked in the Top 10 in the nation as it set a new school record when Soccer Buzz labeled it the nation's seventh-best group. Of Baker's four straight top 25 classes, three have been ranked amongst the nation's top 12. Four Gatorade Players of the Year have also elected to play soccer at FSU under his watch.
It is undeniable that Baker has established the Seminoles as one of the premier teams in the southeast. For the second year in a row the Tribe finished second in the re-gion behind only North Carolina and ranked ahead of every ACC school but UNC. In Soc-cer Buzz's final regional rankings FSU once again finished ahead of Clemson, Auburn, Wake Forest, Florida and Duke to name just a few. FSU also finished ahead of everyone in the region except for the Heels in the fi-nal NSCAA national poll. For the second straight year only one ACC team (North Carolina) advanced farther in the NCAA's than FSU did. The Seminoles are now in a class with just UNC and Virginia in the east in terms of success on the field and in the recruiting process.
The success in recruiting has led to FSU's soaring success on the field and the Talla-hassee community has responded in turn. In 2002 Florida State drew a school record 12,422 fans, which was the ninth-best total in the NCAA. Then in 2003 FSU set another new record establishing a new all-time high with an average of 865 fans per game and finishing in the top 20 in the nation for a second consecutive year. In 2002 the larg-est crowd in school history turned out as 1,603 people watched the Seminoles beat the Florida Gators for the third time in four tries and overall three crowds of 1000 or more fans came out to support the Tribe. Florida State doubled that total last season as six 1,000+ crowds turned out for 10 home games. Florida State has now drawn 13 home crowds of 1,000 or more fans and 11 have come since Baker took over the pro-gram. In those 11 games, FSU is 10-1-0 and they have won six straight games in front of crowds of 1,000 or greater. Since coming to Tallahassee Baker's plan to get the com-munity behind FSU soccer has paid off as 15 of the 20 largest all-time crowds have turned out to watch Baker-led teams and they keep coming back because the Tribe is 13-1-1 in those 15 matches.
As much as head coach Patrick Baker has done in his five years at Florida State, the job he did in 2003 might be his best yet. Baker's 2003 squad was his youngest to date but loaded with talent. Although they set records for the most wins in school history and the best winning percentage ever, on opening day 2003 FSU started four first-year starters and six players with just a year or less college soccer experience. On top of that, Baker had just two seniors on the roster. The youth of the team showed early on as the Tribe fell to four 2003 NCAA Tournament teams in the first five games of the season, three of those four teams wound up playing in the Sweet 16 at the end of the year. With a 3-1 loss to the Jayhawks at Kansas, Baker's Seminoles fell to 1-4. A season that started with a unanimous top 15 ranking was at a turning point. From that point on Baker turned his squad around and led FSU on a run that was like none other in school history as the Tribe went 16-3-1 the rest of the way lead-ing up to the College Cup. In that stretch of 20 games, 15 came against 2003 NCAA Tour-nament teams, six were against teams in the Sweet 16 and two came against consensus No. 1 North Carolina.
It all started with a 6-1 win over a San Diego State squad that finished 2003 allow-ing an average of 1.4 goals per game versus every other team on its schedule. That vic-tory led to a run in which the Seminoles reeled off five straight wins to tie a school-record for the longest winning streak in pro-gram history. The streak included FSU's first shutout of the year, two wins over top 25 teams and a win over an ACC opponent.
The five-game win streak took FSU to No. 4 Virginia where the Tribe faced the only ACC team they have never beat. For 85 min-utes it looked like they would get that first ever win. A Cav goal with five minutes re-maining tied the game and UVa then won the contest with just 23 second left in regu-lation. Baker picked his team up once again after a disappointment and led them to an-other huge run through ACC play going 5-0-1 in their next six outings with three of those games coming on the road. During that run, FSU shut out every single opponent and outscored the competition 15-0. They knocked off ACC squads Duke, Clemson and NC State and played to a scoreless draw with Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, NC. The four-game unbeaten streak in ACC play was a school record and locked up FSU's highest-ever conference finish at second place. The streak ended in a 1-0 loss versus consensus No. 1 North Carolina to end the regular season but the performance was a strong showing versus a team that had outscored its previous six ACC oppo-nents 27-3.
Most Wins -- 17 (2003)
Best Record -- 17-8-1 (2003)
Best ACC Record -- 4-2-1 (2003)
Best ACC Finish -- 2nd (2001 & 2003)
NCAA Success -- College Cup (2003),
Sweet 16 (2000 & 2002),
Round of 32 (2001)
US National Team
The next weekend Baker and the Semi-noles went to the ACC Championships with the highest national ranking in team history at No. 6 (Soccer America). The Tribe trav-eled to Cary, NC as the No. 2 seed and they proved they were every bit worthy of that high seeding. The Seminoles won two games (2-1 over Wake Forest and 1-0 over Maryland) at the ACC Tournament for the first time ever in advancing to the team's second final in three years, which moved Baker into elite company. The FSU head coach and UNC's Anson Dorrance are the only two ACC coaches to play for the title twice in the last three years. While his first ACC title eluded him again, Baker's squad played Carolina to the closest ACC final in 15 years, became the first team to score on UNC in the final since 1996, the first team to score twice since 1994 and they even lead at 1-0 and for over 23 minutes at 2-1.
One day after falling to Carolina by a goal, the Tribe gathered to watch the NCAA selection show where they were awarded a national seed (No. 11) for the first time in program history and named a host site for the second year in a row. The Seminoles re-ceived a lot of praise during the selection show as Soccer America senior editor Scott French said, "You look at Florida State. Florida State is playing wonderful soccer right now. They gave Anson (Dorrance) and North Carolina quite a bit of problems in the ACC Final. I say watch out for Florida State." He went on to predict, "I think it will come down to UNC and Notre Dame. I think North Carolina will prevail. I think UCLA and Florida State will be the other two teams in the final four." Florida State got off to a great start in fulfilling French's College Cup pre-diction with a 5-0 win over Ivy League Cham-pion Dartmouth. The win was the most lop-sided in FSU's NCAA Tournament history and saw the Tribe go on to break nine other records in the victory.
Florida State next met a familiar foe in the second round as the Seminoles and Au-burn Tigers faced off for the third straight season in the NCAA Tournament. Just like FSU's other two second round wins, the Tribe advanced past an SEC team by the score of 2-1 but the difference this time was it took 101 minutes to do so. The victory was the first overtime win for FSU in the NCAA Tour-nament and the first-ever NCAA come from behind win after Auburn jumped out to a 1- 0 lead.
The win sent Florida State to its third Sweet 16 in four years and once again they were shipped to a BIG EAST school in the north. This year it was sixth-seeded West Virginia. The Seminoles had never advanced into the Elite Eight and had never even scored a goal in a Sweet 16 match. It took Kelly Rowland about 14 minutes to end one of those streaks. Her goal at 13:48 staked FSU to a 1-0 lead. Katie Beal extended the Tribe lead to 2-0 at 21:30 with a penalty kick goal. The Seminoles looked to be headed to the NCAA quarterfinals before a WVU come back. The Mountaineers scored the equalizer at 87:21 and sent the game into overtime. With just 21 seconds remaining before the Tribe moved into their first ever NCAA Tournament shootout, the hero from the Auburn game struck again. Junior Katie Beal showed tremendous composure as she lofted an attempted clearance to the top of the WVU 18. Jez Ratliff settled and one touched a great ball out to Leah Gallegos. With time winding down, the su-per sophomore blasted a shot into the net and sent Florida State to its first ever Elite Eight.
The Seminoles faced a familiar foe in the Elite Eight as they took the short bus ride down to Gainesville, FL to face the 3rd-seeded Florida Gators. The Seminoles had already lost to UF in their first meeting of the year (2-0) and were facing a Florida side that was unbeaten in their last 19 home games and had lost just 11 times in 105 games played in Gainesville. That didn't seem to bother Baker's Tribe though as they put together one of the most dominant per-formances of the year and surged out to a 2-0 lead over Florida. The Gators added an 88th minute goal but it wasn't enough to keep Baker and Florida State from its first-ever College Cup.
Florida State's journey from 1-4 to the final four was an amazing accomplishment for Baker and his players but even more amazing than rebounding from a 1-4 start was what the Seminoles had to do to make it to the final four. Baker was the only coach that led his team to the College Cup by de-feating a higher seed and Baker had to do it twice with wins at West Virginia and at Florida. The Seminoles beat both higher seeds on the road -- something no other College Cup team had to do in 2003. Beat-ing West Virginia in Morgantown and Florida in Gainesville were daunting tasks consider-ing those two teams were 36-1-2 (.949) at home before FSU knocked them off. WVU was 19-1 before the Tribe's OT win and UF was unbeaten at home since 2001 (17-0-2) and 94-11 all-time in Gainesville. There was less than a 1% chance FSU would go into both those venues and come away with wins but Baker's squad found a way to do it and in the process became the only team that made it to Cary, NC by beating the highest seeded team in its bracket.
The 2002 season was another in what is becoming a long line of success stories for Baker. After the school's first trip into the Round of 16 in 2000, Baker led his Semi-noles back into the third round of the NCAA tournament. The Tribe won two NCAA Tour-nament games at home for the first time ever downing SEC opponents Mississippi and Auburn. The 2002 squad set a record for the fewest regular season loses in team history, recorded back-to-back wins versus three ACC teams (Clemson, NC State and Maryland), won its third game in four tries versus Florida and finished the year ranked second in the southeast region for the first time ever. No team in the ACC except for North Carolina had a better NCAA Tourna-ment run in 2002 than FSU and the Semi-noles were ranked ahead of every ACC team except for UNC in the final NSCAA national poll.
For the third straight year the team set over 45 records and program firsts includ-ing the squad's first-ever ACC road win in the state of North Carolina (5-1 over NC State), back-to-back ACC seasons with a .500 or better record for the first time ever and the first ever three-game winning streak ver-sus an ACC opponent (Maryland). When Florida State swept its two-game road trip against Maryland and George Mason, FSU not only completed an undefeated regular season road campaign but they also upset a conference opponent on the road. The Tribe's victory in College Park over Maryland also set a new gold standard as FSU now had four all-time wins versus a conference opponent for the first time ever.
The 2001 season saw Baker break through in the ACC despite being on the job for just over two years. Before 2001, Florida State had never finished higher than seventh in the ACC and was predicted to finish fifth by the ACC coaches. After Baker emphasized the importance of a better con-ference finish, Florida State had the most successful conference season, the most regu-lar season ACC wins and the highest confer-ence finish in the history of the program. The Garnet and Gold started the season by winning its first-ever conference opener at No. 7 Clemson and then burst out of the gate to a 3-0 start with wins over Duke and NC State. Considering the fact that FSU had just two ACC wins in the program's first four seasons, the team's 3-0 start in 2001 was a huge leap for the Seminoles. Florida State closed out their ACC regular season sched-ule by downing Maryland to lock up third place in the regular season. The team's four ACC victories were just one shy of equaling the five ACC wins the program had amassed in its previous six years combined.
Florida State's regular season ACC suc-cess paid off when it came to the 2001 con-ference tournament. In the four seasons before his arrival, FSU had never won a game at the ACC Tournament while being outscored 23-1. In 2000, Baker's Seminoles advanced to the semifinals and then in 2001 the program played for its first-ever ACC Championship. With its best ever seeding in program history, Baker guided his team to its first appearance in the ACC Champi-onship final by downing No. 21 Maryland 7-2 and then advancing past No. 8 Virginia in a shootout after four over-time periods. FSU held Virginia scoreless through 150 min-utes of play and keeper Ali Mims made three saves in the shootout to advance Florida State into the final against No. 1 North Caro-lina.
Baker's transformation of the Seminole soccer program took less time than anyone could have imagined as he turned Florida State into a national power in just his second year on the job. Baker led the 2000 squad to the Round of 16 of the NCAA Tournament and Soccer Buzz named him the Southeast Region Coach of the Year and runner-up National Coach of the Year. He guided the Seminoles into the na-tional rankings for the first time and his 2000 squad broke 34 team and individual records and set 25 program firsts. After just one full year of recruiting, the 2000 Seminoles recorded victories over national champion North Carolina and nationally ranked teams Texas A&M, Florida (twice) and Wake Forest on the way to their first-ever NCAA tournament.
Evidence of Baker's outstanding coaching job that season can be seen in the squad's improvement against common opponents from the 1999 to the 2000 campaigns. Florida State had a positive turn-around against 12 of the 14 oppo-nents they played in 1999 and 2000 and one of the two negatives, South Alabama, was still a win. The Seminoles record went from 1-9 against this group in 1999 to 8- 5 in 2000 and FSU had a 46-goal turn-around against this group. Add that to first-time victories against six opponents and it is easy to see how far Baker had taken the Seminoles in just two seasons. This trend continued in 2001 as Baker's Seminoles faced 13 teams they also faced during the 2000 season. Florida State picked up five wins against teams they lost to during the 2000 season and overall the team had a six-goal turn-around against this group that included North Carolina, Clemson, Florida, Duke, Virginia, Wake Forest and Maryland.
Baker took over a program in 1999 that had just one winning season in four years and had only won 15 of the previ-ous 41 games before he was hired. He immediately improved the team from a 7- 11-3 record in 1998 to 9-10-1 in 1999. Baker, only the second coach in the his-tory of Florida State women's soccer, led the Seminoles into the southeast regional rankings for the first time since 1996. Florida State spent four weeks as the No. 10 team in the region and twice tied the record for the longest winning streak in team history (four games).
Penn & NC Wesleyan
Before taking over the Seminole pro-gram, Baker served as the women's head coach at the University of Pennsylvania for five years. During his tenure at Penn, Baker established a 42-37-5 record, won an East-ern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Championship and was named the 1997 Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year. He led Penn to the two-best seasons in pro-gram history in 1997 and 1998. Prior to his head coaching stint at the University of Pennsylvania, Baker achieved similar success at the Division III level where he coached North Carolina Wesleyan to three NCAA Division III tournament appearances and three Top 10 finishes. He compiled a record of 45-21-4 in his five years and was twice named the Dixie Conference Coach of the Year. In 1991, Baker was named the National Soccer Coaches of America Association's (NSCAA) Division III South Region Coach of the Year. Last year he was inducted into North Carolina Wesleyan's Hall of Fame.
US National Team & ODP
Baker is also an integral member of the US National Team program and served as the interim head coach for the U-17 National Team after assisting head coach David Smith with the newly formed team. He has also assisted U-19 National Team head coach Tracey Leone on numerous occasions at the Arco Training Center in Chula Vista, CA pre-paring the team for the inaugural U-19 FIFA World Championships. Baker helped the U-19 National Team prepare for a match against the Mexican National Team and for a European tour in 2001. He recently trav-eled to help prep the full national team for an Olympic friendly versus the Australian National Team that Baker's squad faced three times during the summer of 2004. He served as the head coach for the Region III girl's Olympic Development Program (ODP) and was named an assistant coach for the 2000 U-16 Women's National Team.
Baker has attended the South Region ODP camps since 1990 and has a total of 16 years experience at all levels of the ODP. Prior to working with the U-16 team, he as-sisted head coach Lauren Gregg with the U-21 Women's National Team for three con-secutive years. He served four years at the U-14 state level in North Carolina and was the 1996 U-17 ODP state coach for Eastern Pennsylvania. Baker coached the U-16 and U-18 ODP South Regional camps for eight years and was the assistant coach for the U-17 South Region team from 1991-93. Baker was also the U.S. South Region amateur coach for five years where he received the national coach of the year award in 1994.
Baker served as a member of the Di-vision I Mid-Atlantic Rankings Committee from 1995-1998, was the ISAA/Adidas South Region Rankings Chairman in 1993 and the chairman of the ISAA/Gatorade South Region Rankings Committee from 1990-1992. Baker also served as the chair of the NCAA Division III South Region Committee in 1993 after serving two years on NCAA Division III South Region Tour-nament Committee in 1991 and 1992.
He received his Bachelor of Arts from Otterbein College in 1989 as a double major in Radio & Television Broadcasting and Journalism with a minor in Public Re-lations. He graduated with a 3.67 GPA and was a starter all four years for the men's soccer team. He was named team captain as a junior and senior. Baker was a member of the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) All-Academic Team from 1986- 1989, was a first team All-Conference se-lection in 1989 and played on three OAC Championship squads. He played soccer for 11 years in England and G e r m a n y while his father was sta-tioned over-seas with the US Air Force.
Baker is married to Kelly Sack-Baker and the couple has two children. Emma Louise Baker is three and was born in February of 2002. The couple's new-est addition is Ryan Patrick Baker who was born in February of 2003.