Tips for Players

Florida State women’s coach Mark Krikorian shares team-building strategies

Mark Krikorian took over the Florida State women’s soccer program in 2005 and helped turn the Seminoles into a perennial national title contender in Division 1 college soccer. Krikorian and the Seminoles are coming off a 2018 National Championship after defeating No. 3 North Carolina in the NCAA Championship Game 1-0.

Earning the 2018 NCAA Championship was a complete team effort, as the Seminoles played with 14 different starting lineups through the 27 matches of the season due to a combination of injuries, international call-ups and illnesses.

In 14 seasons in Tallahassee, Krikorian has led FSU to nine College Cup appearances, four appearances in the national title game (2007, 2013, 2014 and 2018), three ACC regular season titles (2009, 2012 and 2014) and six league championships (2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018).

The longtime and successful coach talked with Fuel Soccer about the challenges of winning a national title, how they prepare for next season, and how the game has changed over the past decade.

Congratulations on your national title. What was the personality like on Day 1 compared to what it became over the course of the season?

“That’s a great question because at the start of the season we were missing a few players who were playing at the U-20 World Cup. We were not whole by any fashion on Day 1, and then those players started to sprinkle in and then other kids were called in to other national team camps and events. It was a disjointed start to the season and even into the regular season we were missing players at various times.”

How did they respond to being back on campus after playing on these different national teams?

“When they were here, they trained extremely hard and worked hard toward creating the best team that we could knowing that at any given time there were elements to our team that were not here. It was at times a managerial nightmare for our coaching staff but at the end of the day we were able to get all of the pieces playing together with the depth that we needed to compete for our NCAA Tournament run.”

How important was depth to your success?

“We also lost some very good players along the way to some very significant injuries. It’s become well documented in sports about the idea of next man or next woman up. If someone isn’t here or someone gets hurt, who is going to step in and rise to the challenge and take advantage of an opportunity. Fortunately for us our players did that.”

What was the biggest difference between your 2014 championship team and this past year’s squad?

“The biggest difference was that with the 2014 team all of the elements aligned for us. We had a good, veteran team. Our postseason run that year was a little more traditional where this recent team had to deal with not only the call-ups and injuries but also the challenging schedule and great teams we had to face in the tournament. That was really a big challenge for us. In 2014, everything seemed to fall in place for us where this past year there were a lot of bumps along the way.”

How has women’s college soccer changed over the past decade?

“Through the efforts of a number of really good programs such as Stanford and Virginia and Florida and hopefully us, the teams that value the ball and are more interested in playing an attractive and slower tempo of soccer have continued to rise. There is more technical soccer being played which is reflective of how the game is being played on the world stage. It’s good for our game to have so many teams competing for a national championship.”

You host the annual Mark Krikorian Soccer Academy Spring ID camps which are designed for elite female players in the seventh- to 12th-grade with a desire to play collegiate soccer. What are these camps all about?

“Everyone used to run summer camps, and many of us still do. Over the last four or five years this idea of an ID clinic or camp has started to spring up. For the last couple of years we have hosted an ID camp where it gives kids more of a chance to get on campus and work with the staff and work with the coaches in a very direct and hands-on manner. We did three this past spring and will do more in the fall.”