St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Attitude adjustment aids 'Noles

FSU shakes off a string of poor performances to make Sweet 16 with a little positive thinking.

By BRIAN LANDMAN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 24, 2002

FSU shakes off a string of poor performances to make Sweet 16 with a little positive thinking.

Florida State goalkeeper Kerry York added a wrinkle to her pregame routine before last weekend's NCAA Tournament opener against Ole Miss.

On the tape around her left wrist, she wrote: "believe" and "shutout."

"It comes down to believing; to not having a doubt in your mind," she said. "It's believing in your team. It's believing in yourself."

The simple reminders apparently helped. Despite an inconsistent season, then a shaky, forgettable ACC tournament, York played perhaps her finest soccer.

She had five saves in a 2-0 win against the Rebels, just her second shutout in two months, and followed with a solid outing in a 2-1 win against Auburn. That allowed the Seminoles (13-6-3) to advance to the Sweet 16 today at No. 4-seeded Connecticut (20-2-1).

"We have an excellent frontline, and we're able to run a lot of players at anybody's defense, and Kerry did a good job of cleaning anything that was put in behind their defense," Auburn coach Karen Richter said. "She did a great job."

York needed more than two words etched on her tape to do that. She and the defense allowed four goals in a first-round ACC tournament loss to Maryland at FSU. The Seminoles beat Maryland 1-0 in College Park two weeks earlier.

"Whether right or wrong, our defense starts in goal," said coach Patrick Baker, who has guided FSU to the Sweet 16 a second time in three years. "But I could tell things were going to change last Monday after the (NCAA Tournament) selection show."

He watched taped interviews of the players and heard what York had to say.

"It was special," he said.

York, from Millersville, Md., spoke passionately about doing everything she could to send the seniors out on a strong note and prove her team was better than it showed in recent weeks.

"Not that it's any comparison, but I just remembered how fortunate I was to win my high school championship my senior year," York said. "All I could think about was how much everyone had played for me as a senior and how well I had to play. The mental side had to change.

"After the ACC game, I watched video that night. I analyzed it again the next day in slow-mo with (goalkeepers) coach (John) Galas. We weren't doing some little things. As a defense collectively, we came together and said, 'This isn't going to happen again.' "

She had to believe.

She had to think shutout.

"That (attitude) set the tone for us," Baker said. "Kerry didn't have to do a lot against Auburn, but she came up big when she had to on set pieces and she was exceptional on Friday against Ole Miss."

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.