Oct. 8, 2004
Tallahassee, FL - The 14th-ranked Florida State soccer team has a chance to make a statement this weekend. With two ACC teams traveling to Tallahassee in a three-day span, the Seminoles can either work themselves back into the hunt for a top seed in the conference tournament or play themselves into a play-in game Halloween weekend. The Tribe will take a step in one direction tonight when they face No. 22 Wake Forest (7-3-1, 1-2-0) at the Seminole Soccer Complex for a 7:00 p.m. match.
"Last year at Wake, it was our fifth conference game of the season and 15th game of the year," said head coach Patrick Baker. "We were already well above the .500 mark in conference. This year we both come into the game at 1-2. We both need a conference win badly. It is going to come down to not only who plays better but who wants it more. Wake played hard, got after it, competed and found a way to win against Virginia and that is something we have not done in the last two ACC games. It is something we are going to have to find a way to do tonight."
"Friday night is very important because the difference between being 2-2 in the ACC and 1-3 is huge," said senior Camie Bybee. "We need to start putting together some wins inside the conference. That is so important. I want to see this team to respond to the losses to Virginia and Duke. Hopefully that will start tonight."
If FSU (8-3-0, 1-2-0) is to get back to .500 in the conference, they will have to do it without Bybee in the starting line-up for the seventh time in 11 games. The loss of Bybee has hurt the Tribe's offense in a couple of ways. First, she is one of the most talented, play-making midfielders in the ACC. Second, her loss has caused a constant reshuffling of the Tribe's line-up. The Seminoles have started eight different line-ups in 11 games this season and most of that is due to Bybee's injury. This season four different players have started out wide on the left side of FSU's midfield, three different players have started in the attacking spot vacated when Bybee was injured and two different players have started out wide on the right.
"Gaining some continuity in the midfield has been very difficult due to Camie's injury," said freshman All-American India Trotter. "We played with Camie the whole season last year and we grew accustomed to her strengths and what she does well. We had a great chemistry. It has been an adjustment with other players moving in and out of the line-up. Those players have stepped up but the comfort level just isn't quite the same.
"Camie is a great passer. She is the one who connects with our frontrunners. I think we have missed that and that might be why our goal production isn't where we hoped it would be at this point of the season. Things are getting a lot better in the midfield because we are gaining more experience as a group without Camie there. The more we play together the better it gets."
The Tribe's goal production is on a record-low pace but part of the reason has been injuries to Bybee and consensus All-American Leah Gallegos. Part of the credit also has to go to some good opponents and great defenses.
"I think we have just played a couple of really good teams the last few weeks," said Bybee. "At times we have struggled to find the right combination due to injuries and that has played a part as well."
The Tribe started to turn the corner offensively versus USF Tuesday when the team broke a scoreless streak of more than 250 minutes and went on to beat the Bulls 2-0. There were plenty of positives for the offense according to Baker.
"I liked that we got India faced up and running at our opponent's restraining line," said Baker. "I like the fact that Jez (Ratliff) was able to turn the corner in the midfield. I thought Julia (Schnugg) brought a wonderful energy level and was the Julia of old out there. She was buzzing around, making things happen, making great bent runs and getting herself in. While Leah was in the game, she did a good job as a target player. With the additions of Alli (Ferreri) and Holly (Peltzer) logging solid minutes and being productive, they made things happen. That is what we have been looking for. As long as they continue to do that it will make us that much better and they will continue to see more time."
While the offense is starting to come around, the Tribe defense is keeping FSU in games. The Seminoles have shutout five of 11 opponents this season and dating back to 2003, the Seminoles have blanked 13 of their last 26 opponents. The consistency in the line-up that the midfield has been missing has not been a problem for the back four and keeper Joy McKenzie. That group has started 96% of the time together this year and 88% of the games dating back to the start of 2003.
"Consistency in the back has been so important to our success," said senior defender Marion Cagle. "We all know what each other is capable of doing. The continuity of all four of us has been a big factor in any success we have had. It is going to be very important to keep that going and keep doing what have been doing defensively against Wake Forest because they are so dangerous. I think our goal as an entire team is to shutout every opponent we play but that is a tall task against Wake.
"At times we have been very good defensively," said Baker. "Kelly Rowland has been a force in the back. Katie (Beal), Marion and T (Teresa Rivera) have done well. It has not been as easy as a number of people thought it would be by simply returning all four members of your backline. We are a work in progress. They have taken extra time to make themselves better and in turn make our team better."
Tonight's game is the first of six consecutive ACC games for FSU. The match will kick at 7:00 p.m. and there is never an admission charge to regular season games at the Seminole Soccer Complex. The first 250 fans tonight will receive mini soccer balls and the club soccer team with the most members in attendance will win $250 in gift certificates and all club team members in attendance will be entered into a drawing for the chance to win a $50 gift certificate. If you are unable to attend, Game Tracker will keep you updated with live stats as the game unfolds. Game Tracker is available exclusively through the official athletic website for Florida State University at seminoles.com.