<
>

No Mami, no problem for Seminoles

9/1/2008

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Saturday's win against Coastal Carolina lifted Joe Paterno into a tie with Bobby Bowden on college football's all-time wins list, but at least folks from Tallahassee can take some solace from the soccer field. Florida State's women's soccer team spent its weekend in Happy Valley maintaining its place near the top of the current crop of contenders.

Playing in the shadow of Paterno's perch at Beaver Stadium, the fifth-ranked Seminoles beat ninth-ranked Penn State 4-1 on Friday and followed that up with a 3-0 win against No. 12 Connecticut on Sunday, the latter a rematch of last year's NCAA tournament quarterfinal that sent Florida State to the College Cup.

So much for the suggestion the Seminoles would struggle without Mami Yamaguchi, last season's Hermann Trophy winner who signed a professional contract with Umea in Sweden this spring.

Seeing her first action this season after returning to the United States from her native Finland, Sanna Talonen scored twice in the opening 19 minutes of the second half against Connecticut. Talonen's 18 goals last season were overshadowed to some degree by Yamaguchi's 24 goals and 18 assists, but she's an elite finisher in her own right. Her second goal against the Huskies was an opportunistic follow on a mishandled cross -- the kind of scramble in front that was commonplace with Yamaguchi peppering the goal. But her first goal came on a perfectly struck shot that beat Connecticut keeper Stephanie Labbe low to the far post while Talonen kept her balance against a defender having softly brought down a long pass from midfielder Tori Huster.

"Good coaching, huh?" Florida State coach Mark Krikorian deadpanned of Talonen's fresh-off-the-plane exploits.

Yamaguchi is gone, but three highly-touted freshman forwards -- part of the nation's top recruiting class -- are on hand to fill the void. Tiffany McCarty scored twice against Penn State on Friday (and added an assist on the team's final goal against Connecticut), while Toni Pressley came off the bench with Talonen on Sunday and looked like a player who will be a handful for defenders for reasons beyond a 5-foot-10 linebacker frame.

And that's on top of returning talent like Talonen, midfielder Amada DaCosta and two of the best attacking outside backs in the country in Katrin Schmidt and Erika Sutton.

"We're going to be a good attacking team but a different attacking team than last year," Krikorian said. "I think you saw it today. DaCosta coming out of the midfield -- she's very dynamic and her movements are very good. Now she's got a season under her belt and she's even more dangerous than she was a year ago. Sanna has three different potential front players that will play with her interchangeably, with [Jessica] Price and Pressley and McCarty. I think we have the luxury of riches right now.

"These kids are all developing every day; we look at them in training and they get better every day. I think they had a good weekend."