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FSU soccer advances to the College Cup

The Noles defeat Penn State to advance to their 10th College Cup.

NCAA Womens Soccer: College Cup Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

(1) Florida State (18-4-3) defeated Penn State (18-6-1) by a 1-0 score at the Seminole Soccer Complex to advance to the College Cup.

Pre Game

Penn State is the only unseeded team to reach the Elite 8. However, the Nittany Lions are a legit team. PSU was the Big 10 regular season champion. The Nittany Lions haven’t lost a non-penalty kick game since September 27th. They are 12-0-1 in that span. PSU had a year end ranking of 14 in the coaches poll (22nd RPI).

Penn State prefers a possession style similar to FSU. They also like to play five midfielders and dominate possession through the midfield thereby frustrating their opponents and denying them attacking opportunities.

Game Recap

The Nittany Lions came out on their front foot. PSU had a decided edge in possession in the early going and they were able to translate that into three corner kicks.

In the 11th minute, PSU generated their first great opportunity. FSU tried to clear the ball but it was kept in by Ellie Jean. She reversed the field for Frankie Tagliaferri on the left flank. Tagliaferri crossed the ball into the box and it eventually came out for Alina Ortega Jurado who one-timed a shot that went just high.

In the 22nd minute, Jaelin Howell was called for a foul on Charlotte Williams. PSU took their free kick from about 27 yards away. Ortega Jurado tried to chip it in for Kerry Abello, but the ball bounced out where it was retrieved by Emily Ogle. Her shot was over the goal.

In the 25th minute, Abello intercepted a cross field pass from Gloriana Villalobos. She had a breakaway toward goal, but Natalia Kuikka raced over and knocked the ball away, sending it harmlessly to Caroline Jeffers in goal.

But PSU was able to keep up the pressure. In the 26th minute, Williams released Marissa Sheva with a gorgeous ball that traveled half the length of the field. Sheva slipped behind the Seminole defense, but she couldn’t control the ball and her shot went way wide.

In the 39th minute, the ’Noles generated their best chance of the first half. Gabby Carle drove the ball into the attacking third. She found Anna Patten charging down the middle of the field. Patten drove the ball into the box and laid it back for Olivia Bergau. Bergau took a shot that was deflected by Maddie Nolf. Yujie Zhao tried to get a foot on it, but it got through to goal where it was saved by PSU keeper Amanda Dennis.

In the 41st minute, Sheva released a long pass for Kristin Schnurr who collected the ball in the attacking third. Schnurr got the ball to Williams in the middle of the field. Williams found Sheva on the right flank. Sheva crossed it into the box where Malia Berkely knocked it away. Sheva collected it and passed it back to Nolf. Nolf sent a great ball into the box. Kim Dubbs jumped up to send a wicked header toward the goal, but Jeffers made a great save diving to her left to deny Dubbs.

The game went into halftime tied 0-0.

In the 49th minute, Florida State earned a corner kick. Deyna Castellanos played it short for Natalia Kuikka. Kuikka passed over to Berkely who sent it right back to Kuikka. Kuikka took a touch and rifled a shot on goal from about 25 feet. Dennis was forced into a tough save, but she was up to the task as she got her right hand on it, deflecting it away.

In the 53rd minute, FSU broke the scoring ice. Jaelin Howell drove the ball up the middle of the field. She found Castellanos, who slipped a ball to Kristin McFarland cutting through the box. McFarland passed the ball out to Kaycie Tillman. Tillman one-timed a pass to Zhao in the box. Zhao laid the ball back to Castellanos who one-timed a rocket from about 21 feet that went past a nearly frozen Dennis. The goal gave the Seminoles a 1-0 lead:

In the 66th minute, Zhao got the ball to Dallas Dorosy on the edge of the box. Dorosy laid it back for Castellanos who one-timed a shot that went just over the goal.

In the 78th minute, Castellanos crossed the ball into the middle of the field for Patten. Patten chipped the ball into the box where Dorosy headed it on toward goal. Tillman was able to run on to it, and she got a shot off that was saved by Dennis. Tillman fought Ellie Jean for the rebound and was able to get a foot on it, but Dennis was there to scoop up the ball and end the threat.

In the 82nd minute, Kuikka was called for a foul on Charlotte Williams. PSU was awarded a free kick from about 22 feet. Ortega Jurado took the kick and shot a curling ball, but it went just wide right.

From there, Florida State was able to hold on to get the hard fought 1-0 win and advance to the College Cup for the 10th time in school history.

Post Game

Each team took 8 shots. However, FSU led 5-2 in shots on goal.

Jeffers got her fourth straight start in goal, and she responded by turning in another solid game for FSU. She wasn’t asked to do a ton because of the impressive work from her defenders in front of her (per usual), but she was forced to make a couple nice saves, and she also organized the defense well during PSU’s set-pieces.

This game was a tale of two halves. Penn State started the game well and basically held an advantage for the entire first half. The Nittany Lions did a great job denying the Seminoles possession, while keeping the pressure on. FSU head coach Mark Krikorian remarked at halftime that he wasn’t happy with his team’s play, as he thought they were going for too many long balls instead of keeping possession.

Apparently, the head coach was able to get his message across at halftime because the ’Noles were a different team after the break. PSU led the Seminoles 6-2 in shots in the first half, but FSU dominated possession in the second half, holding the Nittany Lions to just two shots.

That change was the key to the game, and it allowed FSU to advance to its first College Cup since 2015.

Next Game

Florida State will play Stanford in the College Cup in Cary, NC:

The game will be on November 30th and will be broadcast on ESPNU.