SAN DIEGO, Calif. – When Florida State suffered its first defeat of the season, Oct. 18 to Boston College 3-2, they lost more a game.
Up to that point the team was ranked No. 1 in defense and 12 of its previous 14 games had been shut outs. But in one game, the defense had given up more goals than they had all season.
“I think all of us look at the match at Boston College,” FSU coach Mark Krikorian said, “and think that that wasn’t our finest hour.”
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It turned out it just might have been. Though they lost the game, it motivated the team, especially the defense to play better and the results since have been impressive. They played Boston College a month later and won 4-0, posting a second shutout since the loss, climbing back into the top 10 in defense.
“Every team goes through peaks and valleys but we watched a lot of video and we saw the mistakes we were making and we corrected them,” said junior defender, Kassey Kallman. “That’s why we are back on track of not giving up that many goals.”
It was a big reason why the team got into the College Cup. The Seminoles have outscored opponents 14-2 in four games and are full of confidence as they enter the semifinal game against Penn State Friday night.
“Through the NCAA tournament, I think like all teams, there some ups and some downs, but our group has persevered, and we are thrilled to be back here in the College Cup,” Krikorian said. “We are looking forward to playing a very good opponent [Friday] night in Penn State.”
Krikorian acknowledged the reason the team has had so much success has been the defense and Kallman said the unit has matured in the time they have been playing together.
“That’s one of my favorite parts about a backline is that it isn’t individual. You have to play as one unit to be successful,” Kallman said. “That’s definitely one of the things we have stressed in practice countless times the last two years. We feel like we are at that point where we are on the same page. Everyone makes mistakes but I feel like we are at the point where we are good at rebounding from those mistakes and able to read what each other is doing and moving as a group.”
It has certainly made junior goalkeeper Kelsey Wys’ job easier.
“I think it’s something we take pride in, and every single practice we do something to work on it, and it’s a mentality we take into each game,” Wys said. “We want to limit their chances, and if we limit their chances, most of the time we are successful.”
The team was starting to think that every game had to be a shutout and when they lost to BC it was not as devastating as it was motivating.
“I think our entire backline has intensity and it is one of our strengths,” Kallman said. “We bring that to every match. But there was a lot of pressure and media attention about getting so many shutouts. You are going to give up goals, especially in the ACC with all the good teams that we played against. It helps us when we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We’re able to have each other’s backs. It’s played a big part in the success we have had.”