February 6, 2012

Making Sense: Seminoles Pick Up a Summer Win

by Jac Coyne | LaxMagazine.com | Coyne Archive | Twitter

Despite giving up 15 goals to Central Florida, Florida State head coach Bill Harkins lauded the play of the defense, led by senior T.J. Dugan (above), in the 16-15 win. Almost half of the goals that the Seminoles surrendered against the Knights came man-down.
© Cecil Copeland/The Athletic Image

Florida State beat Central Florida, 16-15, on Saturday afternoon. As odd as it may sound, this contest between Top 20 MCLA teams was won by the Seminoles in July.

It was mid-summer of last year when FSU head coach Bill Harkins and UCF head man John Drehoff agreed to a Feb. 4 date for their key SELC divisional game. At first glance, it looked like Harkins, who has been coaching the game for a long time, made a key strategic mistake.

He graduated 17 players – as Harkins says, "Basically all of our starters and their back-ups" – off last year's national quarterfinalist squad and the Seminoles were entering 2012 with question marks hanging over every position on the field. To play No. 20 Central Florida, an up-and-coming team that wanted nothing more than to beat the 12th-ranked 'Noles for the first time in program history, so early seemed foolhardy.

As it turned out, Harkins outfoxed his counterpart by getting this game in February's infancy.

"It is a very important game and I set it up early because usually we're much better than other teams early," Harkins said as the team was preparing to board the bus on Saturday afternoon. "I attribute that to the fact that I run the hell out of our kids at practice. We are usually in much better shape than other teams. They catch up to us later on, but early on we have the advantage. We're kind of like Navy or Air Force in that we're in shape and ready to go early, and we're tough to beat in the first game."

Drehoff wasn't an unwitting dupe. He had an inkling of what Harkins was up to, but he liked the team he had returning this season and thought his talent might be the difference.

"I know when I signed up for the game with Bill and agreed to this early date, he wanted to catch me early before we would be quite ready," Drehoff said. "I can't say if he caught me before we were ready, but he caught me before we were in quite as good of shape as his team was."

Florida State dominated Central Florida in groundballs – a traditional 'hustle' stat – by a count of 57-24. Drehoff said that was a direct result of the Seminoles superior conditioning. It was probably this one aspect of the game that allowed the 'Noles to escape with the one-goal victory – a goal that came with seven seconds left in the game.

"I thought we would be able to run them more, but honestly they have more talent than we do," said Harkins. "No disrespect to us; we played harder. But overall, they were more talented."

UCF's ability to have as much firepower this year after the graduation of David Drehoff, the coach's son who amassed 111 points last year, was a bit of a surprise. Or at least a surprise to those outside of the program. John Drehoff knew that he'd have plenty of punch, especially with sophomore attackman Dylan Soler returning. Soler was the SELC rookie of the year in 2011, although he played in David Drehoff's weighty shadow. After scoring six goals and dishing out two assists against Florida State, he proved that he was deserving of the honor.

"With David [Drehoff] around, you didn't know if he was legit," said Harkins. "He proved he's legit."

"Even though we were losing the MCLA's top scorer in David Drehoff, when I went back and looked at the stats in the book, David was not the only scorer," said John Drehoff. "It was an across the board team effort."

Although both teams still have large questions – FSU's ridiculous 12 penalties and UCF's lack of defensive stops – both coaches walk away feeling good about the remainder of the season.

"We showed something today," said Harkins. "We showed we had heart. We could have crumbled a few times. Do we have a lot of work to do? Yeah, we were sloppy. But we showed toughness."

"It was a phenomenal game," added Drehoff. 'It was a hard fought game on both sides. You could not be unhappy with that performance by either team. You'd be nuts as a coach to be unhappy. Disappointed? Sure. Unhappy? No."

And if Harkins calls up Drehoff next summer looking for an early game, will the Central Florida coach be able to resist the Seminole coach's charms?

"Well, if I was a smart coach I would," said Drehoff, with a small chuckle. "Just let us get in shape a little bit a more."

Game Balls

Dylan Soler (above) won the SELC Rookie of the Year award last spring, but some wondered how productive he'd be without All-American David Drehoff around. After six goals and two assists against No. 12 Florida State, Seminoles' coach Bill Harkins is a believer. "With David around, you didn't know if he was legit," said Harkins. "He proved he's legit."
© Cecil Copeland/The Athletic Image

Chris Palasek & Max Koehler, Attack – Alabama
Palasek, a sophomore, had seven goals and two assists while Koehler, a senior, had three markers and seven helpers in the Tide's convincing, 15-3 victory over LSU on Friday night. The two combined for a 19-point evening.

Stefan Raymond-Hussey, Jr., Middie – Reinhardt
The Eagles went 2-9 last year, including a 16-4 loss to Emory. Behind Raymond-Hussey's two goals and five assists Reinhardt downed Emory, 13-7 on Saturday.

Tyler Selman, Soph., Goalie – Florida State
The high school All-American quit the team last spring, but rededicated himself this spring. Against UCF, he came in during the second quarter, making nine saves down the stretch. His performance not only earned him the team's game ball at the conclusion of the win, but also Making Sense's proverbial GB.

Christian Skuce, Jr., Attack – St. Mary's (Calif.)
If the Gaels harbored any notions of making the MCLA tournament, they needed a win over Cal State Fullerton on Friday night. Skuce made sure it happened with three goals and three assists in the 11-7 victory. In two games this season, Skuce has potted seven goals and set up seven others.

Dylan Soler, Soph., Attack - Central Florida
There were big question as to whether the Knights would be able to make up for the production lost with the graduation of David Drehoff, but Soler answered that question against No. 12 Florida State, scoring six goals and setting up two others in the narrow loss.

Power Fives

NCAA Division II
1. Mercyhurst (0-0) – It's the last season in the ECC for the Lakers and they'd love to go out on top of the league that booted them.
2. Adelphi (0-0) – The Panthers have four games before facing Le Moyne on March 17, but they could all be blowouts.
3. Limestone (0-0) – The Saints crack the egg on Sunday when they host Rollins. They won't be tested until Merrimack comes to town.
4. C.W. Post (0-0) – Post's non-conference schedule isn't that great, but SOS takes care of itself when you play in the ECC.
5. Dowling (0-0) – We'll found out about the Lions when they play consecutive games against NYIT, Post and Mercyhurst in March.

NCAA Division III
1. Salisbury (0-0) – The Gulls practice was delayed by two weeks, but it won't be a factor in Sunday's game vs. Greensboro.
2. Tufts (0-0)- In just 10 short days, the Jumbos will be able to practice.
3. Roanoke (0-0) – In 2006, Noke played St. Mary's early in the season and lost. I don't the Seahawks have the juice six years later.
4. RIT (0-0) – We'll learn a lot about the Tigers when they open up the season with Endicott on March 3.
5. Dickinson (0-0) – The Red Devils are the darlings of the preseason, but they'll have to earn it against a difficult schedule.

MCLA Division I
1. Brigham Young (0-0) – Cougars open up with three games in three days, with a rested Simon Fraser team at the end. Look out.
2. Arizona State (0-0) – Could this be the year the Sun Devils make the full conversion to a defensive-first operation?
3. Colorado State (0-0) – Rumor has it Jason Lamb left Adams State because he didn't want to lose to CSU in their scrimmage on Feb. 18.
4. Chapman (1-0) – After smashing UNLV on Friday, Chapman will take a two-week siesta before winding back up with BYU.
5. Michigan State (0-0) – Sparty is finally the big dog in the CCLA, but they better be concerned with that game against D-II Davenport next week.

MCLA Division II
1. Davenport (0-0) – After Michigan State, the Panthers will have an easy go of it for over a month.
2. St. Thomas (0-0) – Only two true home games for the Tommies this year in a 10-game schedule.
3. Dayton (1-0) – The Flyers passed a nice little test against Tennessee Wesleyan. An impressive performance.
4. Grand Valley State (0-0) – The Lakers have a couple of NCAA D-III scrimmages, but no games until March.
5. St. John's (0-0) – The game between the Johnnies and GVSU in Florida should be a dandy. And tell us a lot.

Monday Notebooks

NCAA Division II: Things finally get going this week, but exclusively in the south.
NCAA Division III: The ODAC and the CAC guide us into the 2012 seson.
MCLA Division I: Simon Fraser winning the numbers game; Northeastern's odd trip.
MCLA Division II: How should we view interdivisional games?; Clarkson announces resignation.

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