(14) Florida State (11-3-2, 4-3-1 ACC) defeated Pittsburgh (4-10-1, 0-8-0 ACC) by a 4-0 score tonight.
Caroline Jeffers got her first start of the season in goal for FSU as normal starter Brooke Bollinger sat out due to illness.
The Noles got off to a fast start earning a corner kick in the third minute. In the fifth minute Gloriana Villalobos - in her first game back from national team duty - unleashed a shot from about 20 feet that went just wide.
In the 11th minute Deyna Castellanos dribbled the ball through the box and left a pass behind her for Kaycie Tillman. Tillman drove a shot on goal but Pitt keeper Katherine Robinson was up to the task to keep the game scoreless.
In the 15th minute Villalobos drove the ball to the box from her position in the midfield. She drew the attention of multiple Pitt defenders and then laid the ball off to an open Castellanos. Deyna then one-timed a curling ball from about 19 feet out that beat Robinson to give the Seminoles a 1-0 lead. This was the sixth goal of the year for Castellanos which ties her with Yujie Zhao for the team lead.
The Noles kept up the pressure. In the 17th minute Kristina Lynch received the ball on the left flank. She worked her way clear of two defenders and got off a shot from just outside the 18 yard box that beat the keeper but hit the crossbar.
In the 40th minute Caroline Jeffers faced her first real test of the game. Madeline Gravante came up from her defensive position to steal the ball at midfield. She launched a well placed shot on goal from almost 50 feet away trying to catch Jeffers off her line. The FSU keeper was up to the task however as Jeffers made an impressive one handed save to preserve the clean sheet.
In the 41st minute the Seminoles generated a counter attack off of Pitt’s corner kick. Castellanos eventually found Megan Connolly who was streaking down the right flank. Connolly one-timed a cross into the middle of the box where Kristen McFarland pounced on it and knocked it into the goal to give the Noles a 2-0 lead.
In the 46th minute FSU earned a corner kick. The Panthers tried to clear the ball but Natalia Kuikka was able to keep it in the attacking third. Kuikka was fouled by Ari Morgan just outside the 18 yard box. Castellanos stepped up to take the free kick. She sent a curling ball ticketed for the upper left hand corner of the goal. Robinson got a hand on it for the save by knocking it off the crossbar. Anna Patten was standing in the wall and when the ball came off the crossbar she was able to knock it into the goal to give Florida State a 3-0 lead.
In the 64th minute FSU earned another corner kick. Castellanos sent a ball into the box. It bounced off of a Pitt defender. Kuikka was able to get to it first and slammed a left footed one-time shot into the back of the net to give the Noles the final 4-0 margin of victory.
FSU outshot Pitt 22-2 (11-1 SOG). The Noles forced Pitt keeper Katherine Robinson into seven saves while Caroline Jeffers only had to make one for Florida State.
As they have for most of the season the Seminoles dominated possession in this game. The big difference is that the Noles didn’t face a super hot keeper in this contest so some of their shots found the back of the net.
Pitt is in rebuilding mode. The Panthers are one of the worst teams in the ACC (RPI 157). Former Notre Dame coach (and two time national coach of the year) Randy Waldrum is in his first year at Pitt. He is a well respected coach who led the Irish to a pair of National titles. He will likely get Pitt turned around. However, it won’t happen this season.
Therefore, at first blush it may seem that this wasn’t an important game for FSU. Don’t be fooled. The Noles were sitting at seventh in the ACC before this game. Since only eight teams make the ACC Tournament FSU couldn’t afford any more losses.
The Seminoles now sit in sixth place in the ACC with tonight’s win. If Florida State wins out the Noles will have an outside chance to move up to fourth in the ACC and earn a home game in the ACC Tournament.
Florida State (7th RPI) is talented enough to win the ACC tournament no matter what seed they earn - especially with their full team almost back from national team duty. The important thing is to make the Tournament in the first place. With tonight’s win FSU took a big step in the right direction.
FSU will now turn its attention to a Virginia team that is ranked sixth nationally (12th RPI). The Seminoles will travel to Charlottesville to face the Cavaliers on Sunday at 1pm. The game will be broadcast on Fox SportsSouth.