Rivalry win highlights successful weekend

About 2,300 fans turned out for the Florida State-Florida game. The Seminoles scored early, and the 1-0 score stood up. Larry Novey, FSU Athletics

What a weekend!

I wouldn’t be able to tell you why and where it comes from, but what I can assure you of is that the rivalry between Florida State University and the University of Florida isn’t just a myth, it is reality.

As an FSU athlete, playing UF is always a big deal; playing UF at home is an even bigger deal. So I’ll let you imagine that playing UF for our season home opener on Aug. 31 was something we had all been waiting for. Coach Mark Krikorian made sure we were mentally ready for the big rendezvous.

About 2,300 fans showed up to support us that night. You had to be there early to get a seat in the bleachers. The not-so-lucky ones sat on the grass around the field while others watched the game from the parking garage overlooking the field.

I hadn’t felt as much pressure and excitement for a game since the College Cup last year. During the whole week, people on campus, on Facebook and on Twitter were talking about it, wishing us the best of luck. Losing wasn’t an option. It wasn’t only a question of the end result but a question of pride as well. As a soccer player, I live for games like this one.

It was 7 p.m. on Friday, the game between FSU and UF could finally start. We came out with the right mentality and managed to score an early goal. We didn’t know it then, but Kristin Grubka, our left center back, had just scored the game-winning goal. No other goal would be scored that night. It was such a relief to win this game, especially in front of a great crowd.

Saturday was going to be an important day for us. Our legs and bodies needed to recover from that intense game as we would have to turn around and play the College of Charleston on Sunday. Regeneration was scheduled at 10 a.m. for the players who played a significant amount of minutes, while the rest of the group practiced a little bit longer.

It just so happened that Saturday was also the FSU football season opener at home against Murray State. Even though a bunch of us were excited about it, attending the game would mean standing in the sun for four straight hours. This was, of course, out of the question as Coach was very clear about it after our game on Saturday, "You can only go for a quarter, and make sure to bring along your water bottle!"

Despite only being able to go for a quarter, I was still looking forward to doing the Seminole chop, cheering and watching the game with my friends. The Noles went on to the win game, and the weekend continued to be a great one with one more thing to accomplish.

The last thing on the list was beating the College of Charleston and improving our record to 4-0-0. Under a persistent sun and extreme heat, we managed to defeat our opponent 4-0 to remain undefeated for the year. Beating UF on Friday would have been meaningless if we hadn’t won on Sunday. This second win was another relief.

Another week in the books, and I can’t tell you how proud I am of my team. There are just two more games before we begin our ACC schedule. Until then we have to continue to hold ourselves to high standards, work hard and prepare for our next opponent, Cal-State Fullerton Friday and Arkansas on Sunday.