Sept. 10, 2004
Tallahassee, FL - The third-ranked Seminoles and sixth-ranked Gators staged another classic battle in the see-saw series Friday night. After the Tribe (3-1-0) bolted out to a 1-0 lead, UF (4-1-0) scored two unanswered goals in a span of just six minutes in the second half to get the win. The loss was just the second at home on a Friday night since Patrick Baker took over the program in 1999 and the first under Baker when 1,000 fans are in attendance as 1,018 witnessed the game.
Lightning and heavy rain delayed the game for 42 minutes just 2:41 into the second half. After the delay, Florida came out recharged and scored goals less than six minutes apart at 51:51 and 57:11. Stephanie Freeman was credited with both goals.
"I thought we started off very well and I was very pleased with the first half performance," said Baker. "The game was in control and I thought we were doing a lot of nice things. When the rains came we sat for a long time, although the same can be said for Florida, and that is when the complexion of the game changed.
"Give Florida credit they changed their system and became very direct. For us to give up two set piece goals was very disappointing. In the second half it wasn't about soccer it was about dealing with the elements. Florida did a much better job than we did and deserved to win."
The win was Florida's first in Tallahassee since 1998 and evened the series at 4-4 since Baker took over in 1999. The loss ends the Tribe's three game winning streak to start the year and the Gators are the first Florida team to ever come into Tallahassee and beat FSU since Baker took over the Seminole program in 1999.
Statistically the match was fairly even. Florida had a slight edge in shots (8-7) and corners (6-4). Both goalkeepers were forced to make four saves but the fouls were heavily in favor of Florida who committed 16 fouls compared to FSU's four.
Just seven minutes into the game Leah Gallegos threatened the Florida defense and put together the first serious scoring chance of the game. The forward picked off a pass and dribbled passed two UF defenders and into the 18-yard box. The striker couldn't get off a shot before the Gator defense closed in.
Six minutes later Gallegos had another chance to put the Seminoles in the lead. Rachel McDowell sent a great ball over the top of the defense and down the right wing to Julia Schnugg. She beat the defense to the pass and went endline. She crossed to Gallegos sitting in front of the goal about six yards out. Gallegos volleyed the perfect service but her shot went just over the crossbar.
The Seminoles finally broke on top in the 23rd minute. Once again a Kelly Rowland long throw-in started the play. With Camie Bybee once again out with an injury, Gallegos was the target player. In her second game in that role the junior seemed more comfortable and she flicked a great ball on to Ratliff's head. The senior went far post beating Brittni Goodwin (4-1-0) and putting FSU up 1-0. With the goal, Ratliff became the first Seminole to ever score three goals versus the Gators in team history.
The goal was Ratliff's third of the season in the first four games. It is the best start of Ratliff's career. The assist by Gallegos was her fourth in a row to start the season and she has now tied the FSU record for consecutive games with an assist. It was also the fourth assist for Rowland on the young season with three coming off throw-ins. The four assists for Rowland equal her total for the entire 2003 season and the four for Gallegos surpass the three she recorded all of last season as well.
"I was glad to help put us on top but once again it was all Kelly and Leah who made that goal happen," said Ratliff. "Considering the result of the game, it is hard to be happy at all about scoring my third goal of the year."
With a light rain starting to fall the Seminoles almost went up 2-0 in the 39th minute. A cross was intercepted at the top of the 18 by a UF defender but the header fell right to Schnugg. The forward sized up her shot and fired at Goodwin but the keeper came up with the save to keep the Gators within a goal.
As the teams walked off the field at halftime the skies opened up and a heavy rain began to fall. The two squads took the field and played for 2:41 through heavy rain but as soon as a lightning bolt struck the teams were cleared off the field. The delay lasted 42 minutes and when the sides retook the field the Gators made their charge.
In the 52nd minute Christine Johnson tested keeper Joy McKenzie (3-1-0) right off the bat. The senior's diving save kept the game at 1-0 but the ball was parried wide of the post setting up a UF corner. On the ensuing corner kick, Daniela Sanchez flicked on a pass to Freeman who headed home the equalizer.
Less than six minutes later another corner kick did FSU in as Freeman was there again to capitalize on a skidding ball. Ashley Kellgren, taking her first corner kick of the night, sent a low corner in that skipped through the box and Freeman just got enough of the ball to redirect it into the back of the net.
"I thought we played well at the start and were doing a lot of good things," said Baker. "After the delay, Florida had all the energy and we just weren't ourselves. I don't know what it was. We weren't moving up top, we weren't active in the midfield and we weren't getting the ball in the back. Things started to go their way. The next thing you know they equalize and the momentum shifts. Then they make it 2-1. Hats off to Florida. They did a much better job in the second half and beat us here on a Friday night, which doesn't happen often."
As the game hit the about 15 minutes remaining, Baker moved to a 4-3-3 and started to create some pressure in hopes of getting the tying goal. In the 79th minute Teresa Rivera sent a diagonal ball that looked like it was going to be intercepted by the UF defense but it skipped past the back and ended up on the foot of Ratliff who began to run free behind the Gator backline. Her cross missed the mark though ending the threat.
A minute later an FSU corner almost got the Tribe the goal they were looking for. Goodwin came out but the cross went past her and into a group of players. Two Seminole players were right there but there was too much commotion to get any sort of shot off before Goodwin pounced on the loose ball.
The best chance FSU had in that last 15 minutes came on an India Trotter run. The sophomore picked up a loose ball and burst through the Gator defense running past four defenders and into the Gator box. Trotter fired a shot but it was partially deflected and went right to Goodwin to seal the victory.
"I saw an opening and I pushed the ball through," said Trotter. "Monica Hoyles came from the side and I could only get a small touch. I thought I had a chance to even it up but it just didn't work out."`
Florida State's next scheduled game will be Sunday, September 12 versus Stetson. The game will start at 1:00 p.m. and is the first meeting between the schools since 1999. Florida State is 3-0 all time against the Hatters. For more information log on to the official athletic site for Florida State athletics, www.seminoles.com.