(1) Florida State (17-4-2) defeated South Florida (15-4) by a 3-1 score this afternoon at the Seminole Soccer Complex.
South Florida is ranked 20th in the Coaches Poll (16th RPI). The Bulls are a legit team that won the regular season title in the AAC. USF features junior striker Evelyne Viens. The Canadian forward leads the nation in goals per game (1.11), points per game (2.61), total goals (47) and total points (47). She is obviously a dangerous player. She is also the major reason why USF leads the nation in points per game (8.39) and scoring offense (2.94).
USF plays a similar system to North Carolina in that they try to utilize high pressure to force mistakes from their opponents.
Florida State started Caroline Jeffers in goal for the second straight game. Regular starter Brooke Bollinger is still sidelined with the injury that she sustained in the ACC championship game.
The game got off to a scary start for Florida State. In the first minute Jaelin Howell passed the ball to Kristina Lynch in the midfield. Lynch and Sabrina Wagner both went for the ball. They collided and Lynch’s leg got caught in the turf and as she flipped over it seemed that she wrenched her right knee. After lying in the ground for several minutes Lynch tried to stay in the game but in the second minute her knee gave out on her and she was forced to leave the game. She would not return after being replaced by Olivia Bergau.
In the 23rd minute Deyna Castellanos and Aubrey Megrath were going for a 50-50 ball in the midfield. Megrath came in hard and knocked Castellanos to the ground. Castellanos popped back up and went after the ball again. The referee called a foul on Castellanos but right before the whistle Megrath gave Castellanos a little shove in the back. This led to Castellanos and Megrath going nose to nose and Bergau had to come over to separate them.
In the 26th minute Howell was taken down by Megrath a couple of feet beyond the midfield line. FSU was awarded a free kick that was taken by Malia Berkely. Berkely takes the kick and sent a dangerous ball that forced USF keeper Sydney Martinez to make a nice save to knock the ball over the end line.
On the ensuing corner kick, Castellanos sent a beautiful ball into the box. Martinez went for it but she missed and the ball rolled outside the box to Kaycie Tillman. Tillman got it to Berkely who drove to the end line and crossed the ball into the box. Dallas Dorosy was able to just barely get a foot on it but it wasn’t enough to direct it on goal and USF was able to clear.
In the 35th minute South Florida broke the scoring ice. Katie Kitching fought through a couple of Nole defenders and sent the ball to Megrath in the middle of the field. Megrath worked her way just inside the 18 yard box. She fired a shot that deflected off of Gabby Carle’s inner thigh and went into the goal. This goal was against the run of play as FSU was dominating possession but they all count the same and USF had a 1-0 lead.
In the 39th minute the Noles earned a free kick. Berkely took it and slipped a pass to Tillman. Tillman got the ball to Megan Connolly on the right flank. Connolly crossed a dangerous ball into the six yard box for Dallas Dorosy. Martinez comes out and blocks Dorosy’s shot. Dorosy flipped over Martinez. Tillman collects the rebound but her shot was blocked. The Bulls clear it but Berkely is there to keep up the pressure. Berkely takes a shot from just inside the box but it is blocked straight up into the air. Anna Patten does a great job to run up to the ball and she manages to send a dangerous header toward the goal but Martinez is there to snag it for the save.
In the 41st minute Florida State scored the equalizer. Berkely drove the ball into the attacking third. She laid it off for Connolly who got it to Dorosy who passed back to Berkely for the reset. Berkely sent it to Gabby Carle who was making an overlapping run down the right flank. Carle drove the ball to the end line and delivered a dangerous cross into the six yard box. Dorosy was waiting for it and she executed a nifty back heel that fooled Martinez and went into the goal.
At the end of the half there was even more chippiness. In the 45th minute Connolly took the ball from Kylee Burroughs in the midfield. Burroughs was called for a foul when she tried to get the ball back. Berkely came up to take the free kick. Burroughs kicked the ball back to Berkely as she was trying to position the ball for the kick as the final seconds were ticking off the clock. Berkely took exception and gave Burroughs a two handed shove to get her away from the ball. Berkely then took the kick with only three seconds left on the clock. Burroughs didn’t appreciate the shove and she got in Berkely’s face. Berkely gave her another push as she walked away. Burroughs knocked her arm away and the two had words before Berkely gave Burroughs another push in the chest. At that point Connolly and Rebekah Anderson came in and separated the two. The two teams then went to their lockerooms for halftime.
In the 47th minute Natalia Kuikka got the ball over to Gloriana Villalobos on the left flank. Villalobos dribbled past a couple of defenders and found Castellanos in the middle of the field. Deyna took a curling, dipping shot that was ticketed for the left hand corner of the goal but Martinez was there for a nice save.
In the 59th minute Castellanos found Villalobos open on the left flank. Villalobos drove the ball into the box and laid it off for a charging Yujie Zhao. Zhao found Dorosy inside the box but her shot was blocked by Brianna Blethen.
In the 63rd minute Carle drove the ball into the middle of the field and found Tillman on the right flank. Tillman passed to Castellanos inside the box. Castellanos drew the defense to her and laid the ball off for Zhao. Zhao drove into the six yard box but her shot was blocked by Martinez. However the rebound hit Zhao in the midsection and bounced into the open goal to give FSU a 2-1 lead.
In the 69th minute Kuikka launched a beautiful ball down the left flank for Villalobos. After tracking it down Villalobos drove the ball into the box beating a couple of defenders and found a trailing Kaycie Tillman. Tillman one-timed it toward the goal but it went high.
In the 84th minute a charging Yujie Zhao received the ball from Dorosy. She beat a couple of defenders and was bearing down on the keeper but Chyanne Dennis came out of nowhere to save the goal by knocking the ball away from Zhao.
In the 87th minute FSU got some insurance. Zhao received a throw-in inside the box. She turned and drew the USF defense to her. She laid the ball off for Villalobos who banged the ball into the back of the net for her first goal of the year. It also gave Florida State the final 3-1 margin of victory.
FSU led in shots 17-4 and in shots on goal 8-2.
The game was very physical. The Bulls were called for a whopping 19 fouls (and two yellow cards) while FSU was guilty of six fouls.
Florida State moves to 43-1 in the NCAA Tournament at home. They also move to 9-0-1 all time against USF.
This game was won - like so many other FSU games - in the midfield. Florida State dominated possession and it all started in the midfield. Because the Seminoles had so much possession the Bulls were forced into trying to get offense from counter attacks started by long clearances. USF just couldn’t sustain possession long enough to generate any dangerous buildup to set up their offense.
FSU also played great defense. When the Bulls did try to counter attack the Nole defense (particularly Natalia Kuikka) was there to snuff out any dangerous chances.
This game was reminiscent of the Virginia game where FSU got down early to a quality opponent but was able to turn up the intensity and dominate the second half to get a fairly comfortable win.
Florida State may be without two starters for the Sweet 16 as the status of Brooke Bollinger and Kristina Lynch has yet to be determined. However, the Noles showed today that they have the depth to compensate for those losses even against quality teams.
USC beat LSU 2-0 in the early game to advance to the Sweet 16. The Noles will face the fourth seeded but sixth ranked (in the Coaches Poll) Trojans on Sunday at 1pm at the Seminole Soccer Complex. This game will be a rematch of a game played earlier this year that ended in a scoreless draw.