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Women’s College Soccer. Florida State Advances To The National Championship Match On Monday.

FSU Tops Virginia IN Penalty Kicks After The Contest Was Scoreless At the Conclusion Of 110 Minutes Of Play.

When FSU and Virginia faced each other back on October 20, 2020 in Charlottesville during the fall season the Seminoles prevailed 4-3 in a back-and-forth attack-oriented contest that featured a total of seven goals. Their contest on Thursday evening in Cary, North Carolina in the semifinals of the College Cup was significantly different with neither side able to muster a goal after 110 ten minutes of play.

The first meeting between the two teams in October seemed to serve as a wakeup call of sorts for a Florida State team that was served notice that they would have to tighten things up on the defensive side of the ball and put in a full ninety-minute shift on both sides of the ball if they hoped to continue to prevail in the highly competitive Atlantic Coast Conference. The Seminoles under Mark Krikorian won their next five games including a 3-2 win over North Carolina to win the ACC Championship to complete the 2020 fall season with a perfect 13-0-0 record. During that five-game span the Seminoles recorded four consecutive shutouts before closing out the season with the win over the Tar Heels.

Credit Virginia with giving FSU all they could handle during the contest Thursday night. Credit FSU with doing what they needed to do to survive and advance to the championship game by prevailing 3-0 in the penalty kick shootout.

Florida State was decisive during the penalty kick shootout dominating it in the way many had thought they would dominate the contest during regulation. Clara Robbins, Emily Mandril and Gabby Carle all calmly sent picture perfect pks into the back of the frame in the shootout while freshman goalkeeper Cristina Roque made two big stops to give FSU the edge that they needed to survive and advance to the championship contest.

Virginia had the best of the run of play in the first half during which they had a six to one advantage in shots. In the first stanza Cavalier junior forward Rebecca Jarrett was particularly effective down the left flank pushing into space at speed to create several potentially dangerous scoring opportunities that FSU managed to thwart.

Virginia looked to be a team that was one pass or one stellar move into space away from coming up with the big play that they needed to breakthrough an FSU defense that had allowed a total of only seven goals to date.   

Florida State opened the contest content to knock the ball around in the back in a manner that enabled Virginia to settle in and get numbers behind the ball. That early start seemed to set the pace and mindset for FSU throughout the remainder of the first half. This is a very talented FSU team but no matter how you spin it the Noles lacked the crispness and decisiveness in their passing and spacing in the early going that has made them such a dangerous team to face.

FSU had a difficult time settling into a rhythm that would enable them to string together the combination of passes needed to create space in the Cavalier defense that they could exploit. Part of that was due to the fact that Virginia led by forwards Diana Ordonez and Jarrett and midfielders Lia Godfrey, Emma Dawson and Taryn Torres among others was able to put enough pressure on FSU while remaining organized defensively to hamper the Seminoles ability to effectively build their attack from the back and push forward to achieve a numbers advantage.

The first half of play can be summed up by the fact that Virginia had a six to one advantage in shots.  

It seemed that this might become a game of attrition with the Noles utilizing their depth with the likes of forwards Jenna Nighswonger and Jody Brown and midfielder Yujie Zhao among those coming off the pine to add the punch and fresh legs that would enable them to wear Virginia down, dominate possession, and control the pace of the match. Clearly FSU’s depth was a factor but it didn’t have the anticipated impact.

Florida State played much better in the second half doing a better job of putting together combinations of passes and pushing forward. Midfielder Clare Robbins started to weave her way through defenders in the attacking third and holding midfielder Jaelin Howell began to make her presence known. FSU also made the adjustments needed on the defensive side of the ball to do a better job of containing Jarret down the left flank. The Seminoles also did a good job of containing highly regarded Virginia forward Diana Ordonez (12g, 5a) who was often double teamed.

Credit the Cavalier backline of Claire Constant, Lizzy Sieracki, Samar Guidry and Talia Staude for putting in a full 110-minute shift. Virginia netminder Laurel Ivory also made the stops that she needed to make in regulation and overtime to keep her team in the contest.

FSU freshman goalkeeper Cristina Roque was outstanding in goal for the Seminoles with a five save evening including a huge potentially game-winning save in the first half and two big stops during the penalty kick shootout.

Even the most diehard Seminole fan would have to say that this was not their best performance but at the end of the evening FSU survived and achieved the desired outcome of advancing to the national championship contest where they will face Santa Clara out of the West Coast Conference.

Perhaps FSU’s second contest with Virginia, like their first back in October, will prove to be a wakeup call of sorts that will bode well for them when they face Santa Clara on Monday on the biggest stage in all of college soccer with the National Championship on the line.

Virginia under the guidance of head coach Steve Swanson gave FSU all they could handle but Swanson pretty much summed things up when he stated. “Full marks to Florida State. They’re a good team, and like I’ve said they’re just not going to beat themselves.”

Virginia came close but they were unable to come up with the one big play that they needed in order to prevail and as expected FSU never made a miscue that could have cost them the game and they came through in the clutch under pressure to prevail in the pk shootout.

FSU is now 13-0-2.  The Seminoles opened the NCAA Tournament with a 3-0 win over Milwaukee and a 3-1 win over Penn State followed by scoreless contests with ACC foes Duke and Virginia in which they prevailed in penalty kicks.    

It was a heartbreaking loss for the Cavaliers but nonetheless a very successful season during which they were 14-4-3 overall.


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