May 15, 2004
Under absolutely fabulous weather conditions the Seminole Soccer team played its fourth and final match in Australia. Today's game was the third against the Australian National Team at the Italo-Australian Club in Surfers Paradise. Despite a valiant effort by the Seminoles, the Aussies prevailed 4-1.
The Aussies got on the board early and led 4-0 by halftime. The Noles were not to be denied a score and Camie Bybee netted a goal at the 74:00 minute mark on assists from Katie Beal and Kelly Rowland.
The Noles final record in Australia is 1-2-1.
Following a joint dinner banquet this evening, the team will pack up in the morning and start the long journey back to the United States. We are expected to arrive in Tallahasse early Monday morning.
As has been the case throughout our entire stay, Thursday night's game again was played under ideal weather conditions. We have not even had a hint of rain. Our venue this time was at the Broadbeach United Soccer Club. The field was not as good as our two previous venues, especially in front of the goals. However, this had no impact on the outcome of the game. The grass was cut much lower which contributed to a very fast paced game.
By the end of the first half the teams were still knotted at zero. FSU drew first blood at the 70:00 minute mark with a great goal by Jez Ratliff assisted by Camie Bybee and India Trotter. The Noles maintained their lead until the 81:00 minute mark when the Aussies scored the equalizer on a header from in front of the goal. With last night's tie, our record now stands at 1-1-1 with our final game on Saturday afternoon at 1PM here in Surfers Paradise.
I'm sorry there won't be any photos of tonight's game. The field lighting was simply inadequate for my camera. Saturday's game will be a day game-I'll make up for it by taking plenty of pictures.
Each game that the Noles have played has been before increasingly larger crowds. It would be fair to say that most were pulling for the home team. Marion Cagle had a wonderful surprise at our game Tuesday in Brisbane. She was reunited with Wayne Baker, a dear friend who had lived with Marion's family in Tallahassee for several years. They had not seen each other in over 8 years. Wayne's mother and sister hope to link up with us at Sydney Airport before we depart. At last night's game we also met a'96 FSU grad who is now living here. Also, a member of Miami's 89 National Champion football team had heard on the news that a "college soccer team from Florida" was playing and came out to see the game-undoubtedly hoping to find his Hurricanes. Our tour has received some attention in the local newspaper and on TV. We hope this will bring out our largest crowd on Saturday afternoon.
Coach Baker's game summary is as follows:
""We played well tonight, much better than our first encounter with them on Saturday. Our back four (Cagle, Rowland, Beal, Rivera) did a great job against their three front and limited their scoring opportunities to just a handful of chances. The first half we really pushed the tempo with quality possession. Our front runners made play predictable and the midfield and backs did an outstanding job of pressuring. At half, we talked about keeping the same things going and finish a chance-that's what we did. With 25 minutes left, Bybee slipped a backdoor ball behind the Aussie defense and Ratliff broke away to tuck the ball far post. The Australians scored a high level goal of their own 10 minutes later to tie the score at 1-1. We created two good chances in the final minutes, but couldn't create the game winner. McKenzie played the first half and York got the second half. This was the first time all spring that the 10 underclassmen from the Final Four starting line-up played together in their position with the addition of McDowell as our wide left midfielder. It has been great competition here and the opportunity to play the Australian National Team three times is a lifetime experience for our young ladies. The environment last night at the Broadbeach United Soccer Club was awesome and hopefully we get that Saturday as well. Good day from Australia-Go Noles!"
Now let me back up and share with you our day leading up to Thursday night's game. Coach Baker gave the team the morning off to do with as they pleased. Some of the players rose early to watch sunrise on the beach. During the morning the beach was a popular site while others went shopping to look for souvenirs and gifts. Others, just relaxed. At 1PM we gathered for a brief ride for a pasta pregame lunch near the beach. Following lunch Coach Baker used the afternoon to meet with the team to prepare for the game.
This morning (Friday) we again had breakfast in our apartments. The morning provided either free time or the opportunity to go to the beach for a surfing lesson. Following the surfing there was a fish and chips lunch on the beach. Most of the team, and some of the coaches, opted for the later. The surfing photos are courtesy of Steve and Joan Boyce. The afternoon was again free. Tonight we are going out as a team for dinner at Dracula's Cabaret, a dinner theater where we "will experience an unforgettable evening of award winning comedy, entertainment and a thousand thrills."
Due to our full itinerary on Saturday, and our travel schedule on Sunday, this will likely be my last opportunity to send a message and photos from Australia. However, when I get back to Tallahassee you can expect a message summarizing the final game, our last hours in Australia and our travel back to the United States.
As a preview of what lies ahead, Saturday morning the team will prepare for their final game against the Aussies. Following the game there will be a little free time before we have a tour ending dinner along with the Australian National Team. At dinner Darren and Jon will announce which team has garnered the Golden Thong Trophy for winning the Down Under Challenge. It will then be back to the hotel to prepare for our Sunday morning departure. We'll fly from Coolangatta Gold Coast Airport at 9:50 AM which will arrive in Sydney at 11:15 AM. We'll collect our bags and transfer to a United Flight which departs at 1:45 PM for the nearly 14 hour flight to San Francisco. Arrival in San Francisco will be at 10:05 AM (Pacific Time) on Sunday morning. We depart San Francisco at 11:25 AM (Pacific) aboard United which will arrive in Orlando at 7:40 PM (Eastern) Sunday night. Our bus should be waiting for the ride back to Tallahassee. Our best guess is a very tired group will roll into town sometime early Monday morning.