(7) Florida State (14-4-2, 7-4-1 ACC) defeated (11) Virginia (15-4, 8-4 ACC) by a 3-1 score in Cary, NC to advance to the ACC Tournament final.
Weather was a factor early in the game as the first 10 minutes were played in a steady downpour. Thankfully, the skies mostly cleared after the early portion of the game.
Florida State started off the game strong. In the 3rd minute Gabby Carle sent a searching ball into the box from midfield. The ball was deflected into the air by Virginia defender Phoebe McClernon. The ball went back toward the upper right hand corner of the goal. Virginia keeper Laurel Ivory made a terrific leaping save to knock the ball off the crossbar saving what would have been a devastating opening own goal.
In the 17th minute Natalia Kuikka sent a pass to Yujie Zhao that covered half the field in the air. Zhao collected the ball and sent a pass to Kaycie Tillman in the box. Zhao was fouled on the play but the referee let the play go on ruling that FSU had the advantage. Tillman laid the ball off for Deyna Castellanos who was streaking through the middle of the box. Castellanos one-timed a shot on goal but it was deflected high and wide by UVA defender Zoe Morse.
In the 20th minute Alexa Spaanstra tried to put a move on FSU defender Gabby Carle. Spaanstra tried to get past Carle at the edge of the 18 yard box. Carle stopped her from getting into the box but the referee called her for obstruction. Fortunately for FSU the referee determined that the foul occurred outside the box so a penalty kick was not given. UVA took a free kick from just outside the box but the ball went high and wide.
In the 23rd minute Spaanstra stole the ball and drove inside FSU’s defense. She got herself open for a shot from about 21 feet out that went just wide.
In the 27th minute UVA generated another chance. Hana Kerner stole the ball for the Cavaliers in the midfield. She dribbled the ball into the attacking third eventually leaving it for Spaanstra who was wide open on the right flank. Spaanstra crossed the ball into the box finding Anna Sumpter. Sumpter took a shot but it was blocked by Gloriana Villalobos.
In the 39th minute Megan Connolly got the ball to Kaycie Tillman at midfield. Tillman turned and beat a couple of UVA defenders while dribbling the ball up the field. She eventually found Dallas Dorosy just inside the box. Dorosy dribbled the ball to the edge of the six yard box but her shot was snuffed out by Hana Kerner.
In the 43rd minute Virginia broke the scoring seal. The Hoos earned a corner when FSU defender Malia Berkely cleared the ball over the end line. Alissa Gorzak took the corner short for UVA passing it to Betsy Brandon. Brandon then sent it back to Ayan Adu. Adu took a shot from about 30 feet out. The ball went through traffic in the box but Brooke Bollinger got a hand on it. Unfortunately for the Noles the ball bounced straight to Zoe Morse who knocked it into the open goal giving UVA a 1-0 lead. The field was still a bit slick from all the rain and that could have been a factor as the ball skipped so quickly through the box.
FSU had another chance right before the half ended. In the 45th minute Kirsten Pavlisko cleared the ball out of FSU’s defensive side of the field. The ball bounced untouched all the way into UVA’s defensive third. Dallas Dorosy displayed impressive speed splitting two Cavalier defenders to track down the ball. It was a great display of hustle from Dorosy. After collecting the ball Dorosy cut it back and then laid if off for Villalobos who was streaking down the middle of the field unmarked. Villalobos sent a hard shot to the goal that was caught by Ivory.
In the 50th minute Florida State struck back. Kristina Lynch received a pass from Berkely on the left flank. Lynch beat Kerner with some nifty footwork. She then found Castellanos just outside the 18 yard box. Deyna took one dribble and fired a shot past Ivory into the lower right corner of the goal to tie the game at 1-1.
Later in the 50th minute Lynch delivered another great ball to Castellanos who was wide open from about 20 yards out. Castellanos beat Phoebe McClernon and was one on one with Ivory from about 10 yards out but the UVA keeper came off her line to make a great save denying Castellanos.
In the 60th minute the Noles had another great opportunity. Berkely dribbled the ball to midfield eventually finding Zhao. She turned and ran against the UVA defense. Zhao slipped a pass to Kristen McFarland who couldn’t catch up to it. Ivory came off her line to get it but she couldn’t control it. The ball bounced back to McFarland who tried to take advantage of the empty net by crossing the ball into the middle of the box. However, the Virginia defense was there to safely clear the ball.
In the 66th minute Castellanos struck again. The sequence started with some masterful buildup from the Noles. Gabby Carle gets the ball to Villalobos in the midfield. She laid it off to Tillman who passes it back to Villalobos on the right flank. Villalobos finds Carle who made an overlapping run down the right flank. Carle takes a dribble to the end line and fires a dangerous cross into the six yard box. Ivory is there to knock the ball away but in the process she ran into Dallas Dorosy receiving a knee to the back of her head. The ball bounces out to a lurking Castellanos who one-times it toward the goal. The ball ricocheted off of UVA defender Phoebe McClernon into the goal for a 2-1 Seminole lead. The game was stopped for several minutes while the trainers checked out keeper Laurel Ivory but thankfully she was okay to stay in the game.
Later in the 66th minute Ivory was forced to make another brilliant save. Castellanos collected the ball at midfield. She executed a nice move to get free and sent a long ball for Dallas Dorosy. Dorosy used her speed to reach the ball and had a fantastic first touch to beat McClernon. Dorosy gets past her and takes a shot from about 16 yards out but Ivory came off her line to make another great save.
In the 75th minute UVA had their best chance of the second half. Alissa Gorzak got the ball on the left flank and challenged the FSU defense. She eventually found Meghan McCool in the box. McCool split two FSU defenders but her first touch was a bit heavy and Bollinger came out to end the threat. McCool was ridden off the ball by Berkely and McCool wanted the foul (which would have resulted in a penalty kick) but the referee was uninterested.
In the 82nd minute Tillman received a pass from Castellanos. She dribbled through the midfield untouched into the attacking third. She found Kristen McFarland at the top of the box. Ivory again came off her line to cut off the angle but McFarland executed a nifty chip over her to score the third Seminole goal of the night to make the score 3-1.
From there the Noles were able to deny Virginia any more chances and the Seminoles advanced to the ACC championship game with a 3-1 victory.
Florida State outshot Virginia 11-9. The Noles had seven shots on goal to UVA’s four.
After a fairly even first half FSU simply throttled the Hoos in the second half. The Noles clamped down on Virginia in the midfield taking total control and denying the Cavaliers any meaningful midfield possession. It was simply a clinic in the second half. The second half performance was perhaps the best extended play from the Seminoles against a top opponent since the UCLA game on September 2nd.
What can you say about Deyna Castellanos? She is simply so dangerous at all times. Tonight she displayed her versatility as she scored a pair of goals and set up her teammates for a number of other great opportunities.
The Seminoles won this game for a number of reasons. The coaches did a great job with adjustments at halftime. Another important reason for the win was that the Noles were the tougher more aggressive team. There were several times where FSU muscled the Cavaliers off of the ball without fouling.
Florida State is the only team all season to score more than one goal in a single game against Virginia. FSU has done it twice. In addition to tonight’s win the Seminoles defeated UVA 2-0 in Charlottesville on October 21st.
The Noles are healthy and at full strength. They also happen to be playing their best soccer of the season at just the right time.
Florida State will stay in Cary to prepare to face the (3) North Carolina Tar Heels in the ACC Tournament Championship game. The game is scheduled to kickoff at noon on Sunday and will be broadcast on ESPNU.