Aug. 21, 2002
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Less than two years ago the Florida State soccer program had never received a national ranking in school history. This year the Seminoles are on their way to being a consensus preseason Top 20 pick for the second consecutive year. How things have changed.
Florida State is ranked 17th in the nation in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) preseason poll released Wednesday afternoon. The Tribe finished the 2001 season ranked 20th in the coaches' poll and began the 2001 season ranked 16th by the NSCAA.
"It is amazing how far this program and the players have come in the last few years," said head coach Patrick Baker. "To have come here in 1999 and have the mixture of players who were already here and the kids we brought in mesh and be successful is remarkable. We are so excited.
"How you perceive a national ranking is what is important. Really it is just a gauge of what the poll voters think to start off the season. We are excited about how they see our program. For us, it makes us work harder. It makes us want to compete that much more. It makes our girls want to do that much more fitness. They hold themselves to a higher standard and as long as the rankings keep inspiring us to do those things then I think it gives you the separation you need from a lot of other programs."
The Seminoles face two teams ranked in the NSCAA's Top 10 (No. 2 North Carolina and No. 6 Virginia) and two other teams in the coaches' Top 15 (No. 13 Florida and No. 14 Clemson). Florida State is just one of four ACC teams to garner a preseason ranking in the NSCAA poll and SoccerBuzz poll. The Tribe was tabbed 10th by SoccerrBuzz, which is the highest preseason ranking in program history.
"I think the coaches' vote has a lot to do with where you finish the season," said Baker. "We lost to UNC in the ACC Championship final, we lost to Florida and we split the series with Clemson so I wouldn't argue we were in the top four in the region. I also wouldn't argue that we were No. 4 based on head-to-head. From that standpoint, I think there is some validity to the No. 17 ranking.
"In the SoccerBuzz poll, I think they probably take a little more information into account before they rank schools. They look at which players you have lost, whom you garnered in the recruiting process and what your schedule is like. I don't think the coaches have that much time to analyze all of those factors right now. The greatest thing about it is that it will all play out. We face some of the region's and the nation's best teams so we will find out if we are worthy of that ranking based on results."
The Seminoles leave at 8:00 a.m. Thursday morning as the travel to Athens, GA to face the 24th-ranked Bulldogs August 23 at 7:00 p.m. For more information on the 2002 Seminole soccer team, please visit the official athletics website for the Florida State University at www.seminoles.com.