Nov. 3, 2004
Complete Box Score in PDF Format
"I first want to congratulate Todd (Bramble) and Clemson on advancing to Friday's semifinal," said FSU head coach Patrick Baker. "It was a terrific game that was a tale of two halves. They did some very nice stuff in the first half and we finally showed up in the second half and started to do some good things. We showed great character coming from behind and when it gets to PK's anything can happen. We wish them the best as they continue on."
The Tribe (12-5-2) got off to an inauspicious start as Clemson (10-6-2) broke out to a 2-0 lead on two goals scored within :47 of one another. The first came on the Tribe's first own goal in at least four years and the second followed just moments later at 14:32. The Seminoles came out of halftime and halved the lead just 3:52 in on Teresa Rivera's first goal of the season. Then at the 77:31 mark Kelly Rowland scored her fourth career ACC Tournament goal to equalize the match.
After two 10 minute overtime periods the game was officially a tie but a shootout ensued to determine which team would advance into Friday's semifinal. The Seminoles fell behind 4-3 with Clemson shooter Courtney Foster walking to the line to clinch the shootout. FSU keeper and All-ACC first team member Joy McKenzie ranged to her left on the low line drive PK and stuck out her hand stopping the ball cold in its tracks.
"Credit Joy McKenzie, that was one of the best penalty kick saves I have ever seen," said Clemson head coach Todd Bramble.
The Tribe was unable to cash in on McKenzie's heroics though. Needing to convert its final kick to continue the shootout, Johnston came up with a save of her own. Senior midfielder Camie Bybee sent a high shot just to the left of center where Johnston got a hand on the ball and deflected it into the post. The ball bounced away from the net sending Clemson into the next round.
Although FSU was the aggressor through the very early part of the game, Clemson got an early break on the own goal. Foster, who was a handful all day for the Tribe, got in behind the FSU defense at the top of the 18. She fired a shot, which was blocked. As Bybee charged to clear the ball out of danger, it took a bad hop and hit her foot in an unexpected place. The result was an early Clemson lead.
Less than a minute later the Tigers struck again. Lindsay Browne served a ball from the right wing. An FSU defender tried to get a head on the ball but it wasn't enough to keep the cross from finding Allison Graham. The All-ACC first team member finished the chance at the far post.
Despite holding a 5-0 edge in corner kicks and being tied in shots on goal, the Seminoles headed to the locker room at half trailing 2-0 for the first time since September 5, 2003 versus Florida.
"Needless to say, halftime wasn't easy," said Baker. "We tried to light a fire under them. They seemed defeated when we walked into the locker room. Clemson's players were pretty juiced as both teams walked through the channel leading to the locker rooms. I told our players that Clemson thought this game was over and we gave them no right to think anything different based on the first half.
"I tried to tell our team that if this what people are going to think about Florida State soccer after 45 minutes, they are going to be severely disappointed. I give our group credit because we came out and responded."
Less than four minutes out of the locker room the Tribe broke through. The play started on the left side when Sage Sizemore and Marion Cagle combined. Cagle made an overlapping run and got endline. Her service was deflected off a defender's head but not out of danger. Rivera was at the back corner of the box and headed the rebound towards the back post. The goal was the first of her career.
"I positioned myself to get the rebound on that service just in case anything came out," said Rivera. "The ball got knocked out back to me and I saw the backpost was open if not to score then to find a runner. I got my head on it and it went in. I think that goal gave us hope that we could comeback."
"Teresa's goal helped change the complexion," said Baker. "As the game wore on if we weren't back in the game we would have been forced to change our system of play and take more chances going forward. T capitalizing on that chance really changed things."
The goal brought FSU back into the game but it wasn't until Baker pushed the conference's only All-ACC defender forward that the Tribe capitalized. With just over 12 minutes remaining, freshman Melissa Samokishyn played a long ball from midfield. The pass found Rowland at the top of the 18. The super sophomore turned to goal as the keeper charged. She placed a low shot just inside the near post.
"Melissa played a great ball in," said Rowland. "I saw the defender was more towards the center so I took my first touch away from her and luckily I got through. It was just me and the keeper and I decided to go low at the near post. Luckily I was able to beat her."
"When we went to a 4-3-3 and put Kelly up top, I think you saw why we think she is one of the very best," said Baker. "She continues to do good things for us."
Both teams had chances in the 20 minutes of overtime but neither was able to capitalize sending the game into a shootout. It was the first shootout for FSU since the 2001 ACC Tournament when the Tribe battled Virginia to a 0-0 tie for 150 minutes before advancing on PK's.
"We chose the shooters basically on a gut feeling," said Baker. "We had hit a few over the course of time but we have only had one PK awarded to us all year and Katie Beal hit that one."
After Clemson buried its first kick, Beal was the first out of the gate for FSU and she hit her shot. Clemson went up 2-1 before Rivera came through after her shot hit the post and caromed in. The Tigers went up 3-2 after making their next kick and then watching India Trotter's attempt sail high over the crossbar. Clemson hit its fourth in a row before Julia Schnugg kept the Tribe alive at 4-3. The Seminoles only hope of staying alive was a Clemson miss on its fifth and final shot and McKenzie made sure that happened with her highlight reel save.
"I think I psyched myself out on a few of the earlier kicks," said McKenzie. "Thomo (goalkeeper coach Rob Thompson) told me to just go with my instincts. Don't guess, just go. That is what I tried to do.
"I waited on that kick. I guessed on two before that and it didn't do my any good. I chose to just react and luckily enough I got a hand on it. I didn't think at all. It just happened."
Unfortunately the big save didn't extend FSU's ACC Tournament life as Johnston ended the shootout by saving the final kick of the night.
The Seminoles will enter the 2004 NCAA Tournament next week just 0-2-1 in its last three outings and 5-4-2 in the last 11 games. The Tribe seems assured of a spot in the field of 64 but whether they will host or be sent on the road is a big question mark at this point.
"We are not the same team we were a year ago," said Baker. "Without Leah Gallegos up top and Camie playing on just one leg we are not the team we were opening weekend. I think in the second half, the thing I really appreciated about our players is that they really competed. They got after it. For whatever reason, this entire year has been a struggle.
"After playing such an exciting ACC Final last year and playing in the College Cup, you wear a target on your back. You try and tell the players how difficult it will be to deal with that because we have taken everybody's best shot this year. I think it is huge testament to our players we finished third in the ACC without arguably one of the nation's top goal scorers over the last nine games."
The Seminoles will most likely open the NCAA Tournament next Friday, November 12. Florida State will try to match the run that took them to last year's final four but Baker knows it will require shaking off the Tribe's difficult run heading into the postseason.
"We have tried a lot of things at this point in time, it isn't just one thing," said Baker. "Last year it was our system. We played a 4-5-1 and when we changed that we just started rolling. It seemed easy. This year we have tried to be creative in a lot of different ways. We have all worked so hard and you just hope when people watch them play it is a reflection of that hard work.
"Two of the good things about getting knocked out early is you get to rest and you get to train. You get to be fresh for the tournament and hopefully that will be what happens to our group."
Florida State will learn its NCAA Tournament fate this Monday when the selection show airs between 4:00-5:00 p.m. on ESPNEWS. All the information will be available on seminoles.com, the official athletic website for Florida State University.