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Florida State And Stanford Advance To The National Championship

FSU Defeated Clemson 2-0 While Stanford Topped BYU 2-0. By Sarah Sparkman

Florida State 2 – Clemson 0 – This rather physical contest played out pretty much as expected. FSU applied pressure from the get-go pushing numbers forward whenever feasible while remaining organized on the defensive side of the ball. The pressure began to take a toll on Clemson as the match progressed.

A determined Clemson team kept the match close and was able to disrupt the flow and rhythm of a multi-dimensional Seminole attack and create their own scoring opportunities at times during the contest but when FSU was able to put together combinations of passes and push numbers forward they were able to get the best of the run of play and create seams and space that they could exploit.

The tipping point in the game came during the 38th minute when redshirt junior Kaitlyn Zipay who had just come into the match decisively sent a one-timer from just outside the box into the near post with a double assist from forward Leah Pais and defender Heather Gilchrist. Zipay’s goal gave the Seminoles an edge they they would never relinquish. The teams went into intermission with FSU up 1-0.

It seemed like it was just a matter of time before FSU midfielder Onyi Echegini, forward Jordon Dudley or forward Jody Brown would receive a ball at their feet out of a counter attack and utilize their quickness and touch on the ball to gain the step advantage they needed to put the ball into the back of the frame. Freshman sensation Dudley did just that for the Seminoles in the 53rd minute when she pushed forward at speed down the touchline and sent a rocket into the upper right corner from just inside the box to give FSU a 2-0 advantage and in effect conclude the scoring for the evening. The goal was Dudley’s 13th of the season and third during the NCAA Tournament.

A stout team oriented Seminole defense anchored by backs Lauren Flynn and Heather Gilchrist, midfielder Mimi Van Zanten, and goalkeeper Cristina Rogue among others posted FSU’s fifth consecutive shutout in the NCAA Tournament.

Clemson, led by the likes of graduate student forward Caroline Conti, midfielders senior Megan Bornkamp and graduate student Hal Hershfelt, senior defender Makenna Morris and graduate student goalkeeper Halle Mackiewicz, concludes a history making 18-4-4 season during which the Tigers under head coach Eddie Radwanski earned their first ever berth in the College Cup and forever raised the standard of excellence for the program.

Florida State improves to 21-0-1and advances to face Stanford on Monday at 6 p.m. eastern time with the national championship on the line.

Stanford 2 – BYU 0 – The Cardinal came out on the front foot taking advantage of a BYU team that has had a tendency at times to dig themselves into an early hole.

Sophomore forward Allie Montoya lofted a bending ball into the upper left corner after receiving a pass from Jasmine Aikey just over a minute into the match to give Stanford an early 1-0 lead. Fifth year midfielder May Doms then gave the Cardinal a 2-0 advantage when she drove a shot into the upper left corner after receiving a long pass from defender Kennedy Wesley in the fourth minute of play.

A Stanford team that has only allowed a total of ten goals all year is not the kind of team that you want to have to chase from behind but if there was any team in the country that was physically and mentally prepared to overcome a two goal deficit it was a high powered senior led BYU team that had scored a total of 79 goals to date and averaged 3.16 goals per game. It is also noteworthy that BYU had an impressive number of fans on hand who had made the cross country trip to Cary, North Carolina to support the Cougars.

BYU was also coming off a miraculous 4-3 win over North Carolina in which the had come from three goals down at halftime to punch their ticket to the College Cup. On the other hand that come from behind win likely served as a notice to Stanford that they had to put in a full ninety minutes without a letup in play on the defensive side of the ball to top BYU. Stanford’s trademark is their play on the defensive side of the ball but they also have an attack led by Jasmine Aikey (11g, 11a) and Maya Doms (11g, 6a) that has produced a total of 53 goals.

The Cougars continued to press the attack and appeared to pull one back in the closing minutes of the first half when Ellie Walbruch placed a shot into the net from within the box but it was overturned due to an offsides call. Had the goal not been flagged it would likely have given the Cougars momentum heading into halftime but it was nullified and the teams went into intermission with Stanford up 2-0.

BYU continued to try to break the code on a tenacious Cardinal defense while tightening up their own defense but they were unable to come up with the big plays needed to overcome the 2-0 Stanford advantage. The Cougars concluded the evening with a 20 to three advantage in shots but an opportunistic Cardinal side prevailed in the only statistic that matters. It is noteworthy that both teams had three shots on goal for the evening.

BYU under head coach Jennifer Rockwood concludes a truly outstanding season with a 20-3-3 overall record.

Stanford improves to 20-0-4 and advances to the national final on Monday where they will face Florida State.

Pictures Florida State and Stanford Athletics

Sarah Sparkman is a contributing writer for College Soccer News covering women’s soccer.

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