The Florida State women’s soccer team may be known for its’ stingy defense, but the offense has steadily developed into a solid threat at the right time for the No. 3 Seminoles as they approach the final weeks of the regular season and start preparing for postseason play.
The Seminoles boast a .477 goals against average – the eighth-best in the nation and lowest in the ultra-competitive Atlantic Coast Conference. On the flip side, Florida State is scoring 1.94 goals per game, which ranks 60th in Division I.
In the middle of the season, the Seminoles’ defense helped them survive a seven-game stretch that saw them score more than one goal just once (2-1 against Duke). However, over the last six games, the Seminoles have averaged 3.2 goals per game.
“Typically, what we find is our defending will kind of have to carry us because we’re not quite sharp enough with the ball and the players’ relationships on the field aren’t quite good enough early in the year,” Florida State head coach Mark Krikorian said. “As the season goes on we get a little bit better and the chances come and after that, hopefully the goals come. I guess that’s the phase we’re at now.”
Iceland natives Dagny Brynjarsdottir and Berglind Thorvaldsdottir, who are also members of their country’s National Team, have been an integral part of Florida State’s increased offensive production. Brynjarsdottir, an attacking midfielder, and Thorvaldsdottir, a forward, are tied for the team lead with seven goals apiece.
“I feel like we’re more used to each other now,” Brynjarsdottir said. “ We are creating a lot of chances in every game, but I think we can do better and finish more chances. Sometimes, we’re creating 20 chances and only scoring one or two goals. We can still do better.”
“We’ve been working a lot on crossing now and we didn’t do that in the beginning,” Thorvaldsdottir said. “I feel like we’re more organized now.”
Florida State plays a possession style of soccer and attacking typically takes time to evolve as the chemistry builds between teammates.
“Being so precise with passes and timing of the run and movement off the ball and spacing – it’s hard,” Krikorian said. “It’s hard to teach and hard to learn. That’s why not a whole lot of people play this way. Most of the teams are very direct taking the ball and knocking it forward and hope their athlete is better than the other kid and they can get a chance out of it.
“It’s just a different view of the game and idea of the way the game should look. We have our own niche – we want to play the beautiful game and attack in a lot of different ways with a lot of different players and possess the ball and keep the ball. Sometimes there are risks that go with that. You need to have pretty good defending if you are going to take those kind of risks.”
With a defense that has posted 10 shutouts in 16 games while leading the Seminoles to a 13-0-3 mark, the risks have paid off for Florida State.
“In the beginning of the season, we have to focus on the defense because if you have a good defense the other team will have a harder time beating you in a tight game,” Brynjarsdottir said. “Now, we can focus on our attacking and the chances we’re creating.”
The Icelandic duo first started playing together on the Iceland U-17 National Team and climbed up the ranks of the national program together before arriving Tallahassee where they have been a welcome addition for Krikorian. Brynjarsdottir, a junior, was the team’s top returning scorer with nine goals, while Thorvaldsdottir redshirted last season in her first year at Florida State.
“Both Dagny and Berglind are attacking-minded players,” Krikorian said. “Both have a great deal of experience scoring and creating goals at many different levels. When they came to Florida State, they brought tools with them that have helped us. I think both of them are quite capable of scoring big goals in big games. Hopefully, we continue to work and get everyone’s playing style on the same page and have everyone understand how we want to play for the betterment of the team.”
But while Brynjarsdottir and Thorvaldsdottir have combined to score almost half of the Seminoles’ goals, they also serve a key role in Florida State’s collective defending approach.
“Our defending starts with Berglind,” Krikorian said. “She’s the highest player on the field and the first line of defense. When it is our turn to have the ball on the attack, the hope is that Dagny and Berglind will put themselves in position to either score or create the goals. They are both in attacking roles, but they have vital different roles to the team in many different ways – set pieces, attacking, defending. Their influence and impact is felt throughout the course of the game.”
Florida State has an incredibly tough road ahead this week as the Seminoles travel to No. 4 Virginia Tech on Thursday at 7 p.m., and No. 1 Virginia on Sunday at 2 p.m. FSU is currently in second-place in the ACC standings with 16 points behind the unbeaten and untied Cavaliers.
“The depth and the quality of ACC is so good there is never a week off,” Krikorian said. “You can drive yourself nuts thinking about it, but the way we look at it is those games are fantastic opportunities to play Top 25 teams and measure ourselves and hopefully prepare ourselves better for the end of the season.”
“We play every game like it is the finals,” Thorvaldsdottir said.
Amy Farnum Patronis is a contributing writer for College Soccer News covering Division I women's soccer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org