The no. 1 Virginia Cavaliers (11-0-3, 3-0-3 ACC, 12th RPI) defeated the no. 5 Florida State Seminoles (11-3-0, 5-1 ACC, 3rd RPI) in double overtime by a 1-0 score today at the Seminole Soccer Complex.
UVA had the first real good chance. In the ninth minute Meghan McCool received the ball down the left flank. McCool battled with Gabby Carle but managed to get past Carle and drove toward the box. She was cut off by Jaelin Howell but she laid it off for Alexa Spaanstra who tried to chip it into the box. Heather Payne was there to knock it away but her clearance went straight to Taryn Torres who found Spaanstra on the left wing. Spaanstra delivered a dangerous cross right outside the six but Malia Berkely was there to knock the ball out of bounds.
In the 10th minute UVA tried again. After the Noles cleared a corner kick Zoe Morse chipped the ball back into FSU’s box. Berkely headed it away but Diana Ordonez was able to recapture it and get it over to Rebecca Jarrett. Jarrett slipped a nice ball through the Nole defense into the path of Anna Sumpter. Sumpter was open in the box because FSU was looking for an offside call that never came. Sumpter crossed it to McCool who had her shot blocked by a hustling Howell. However, McCool did well to stay with the play and she got off a quick shot with her right foot. Caroline Jeffers made an impressive kick save to keep the score sheet clean.
In the 18th minute the Hoos generated another chance. Spaanstra tracked down a ball on the left flank. She quickly found McCool charging down the middle of the field. McCool got by Payne and she was 1v1 with the keeper. McCool fired a shot that was saved by Jeffers who dived to her right to stop the ball.
In the 38th minute Florida State had a good chance. Makala Thomas received the ball in the UVA third of the field. She quickly found Yujie Zhao who ran at the defense. Zhao switched it over to Jenna Nighswonger on the right flank. Nighswonger one-timed a right foot shot that was caught by a perfectly placed Laurel Ivory.
In the 59th minute Payne advanced from her spot on the backline to retrieve a ball in the midfield. She slid a gorgeous pass through the Virginia defense to an open Zhao who was charging into the box. As the ball was going by Deyna Castellanos gave it a precise touch to make sure that Zhao could get it. Zhao took a couple of touches and fired a shot that went into the side netting.
In the 63rd minute Jarrett had the ball on the right flank. She passed it over to Sumpter who found McCool headed into the box. McCool was being hounded by Payne and Carle but she managed to get a hard left-footed shot off that was saved over the goal by Jeffers.
In the 65th minute the Cavs generated another chance. Claire Constant found Cam Lexow on the right flank. Lexow crossed the ball for McCool in the box but McCool couldn’t get her foot on it. However the ball went across the goal mouth where Alissa Gorzak pounced on it but her shot went wide.
In the 67th minute Virginia earned a corner. Spaanstra sent it to the far post. After Howell headed it away UVA regrouped. The Cavs sent a ball into the box that was headed away by Payne. However her header went straight to Gorzak who took a couple of touches before firing a rocket on goal that was saved on a great play by Jeffers.
On the ensuing corner FSU failed to clear properly and the ball went straight to Spaanstra who fired a missile at goal from about 10 yards out. Jeffers came up huge yet again to deny Spaanstra.
In the 90th minute the Noles tried to win the game in the dying seconds. After a throw-in Castellanos found a trailing Nighswonger. Jenna took a touch and teed up a left-footed blast that forced Ivory into a very nice save diving to her right. Ivory slightly spilled it but she was able to pounce on it before a poaching Zhao could get the rebound.
In the 102nd minute FSU generated the first great chance of the overtime. Berkely dribbled into the midfield and then lifted a beautiful ball into the box that was run onto by Zhao. Zhao took a touch and sent a dangerous cross into the six for a charging Kristen McFarland but McFarland just couldn’t reach what would have been a great chance at a goal.
In the 104th minute the Hoos got the golden goal. It came on a corner kick. In fact it was the second corner kick. On the first one Courtney Petersen sent the kick to the far post. It was headed back into the six where Jeffers made another quality save to knock it away.
On the ensuing corner UVA tried the same tactic of going long. This time it was knocked back into the six where McCool was able to get her head on it and send it just past Payne who was guarding the post and into the back of the net for a 1-0 Cavalier win.
As you can probably imagine this was an even contest. FSU led in shots (14-10) but UVA led in shots on goal (6-4). FSU also had most of the possession (54%-46%) but they couldn’t use it effectively to generate enough dangerous chances.
This was a tough matchup for FSU because UVA is very strong in the middle of the field. The Hoos do give up a little on the flanks which means they can be a bit vulnerable to speed on the wings. The Noles did have a couple of opportunities today where they had open space down the flanks but (mostly due to injuries) the Seminoles didn’t have the speed today to take advantage.
This was the best game that I have seen Caroline Jeffers play this entire season especially when you consider the level of the opponent. Jeffers made the routine saves today but she saved FSU’s bacon several times with clutch saves to keep the game even. Jeffers has been a bit up and down this year but if she can consistently play at this level the Seminoles will be tough to deal with in the postseason.
This was a matchup of two heavyweights that could have gone either way. Virginia deserved the victory as they made one more play than Florida State today. However, in the next meeting it could really be different. There isn’t much between these two teams.
With the loss the Seminoles have their nine game winning streak snapped and they fall to second place in the ACC behind North Carolina with only four games left in the regular season.
Florida State will welcome the Miami Hurricanes to the Seminole Soccer Complex on Friday at 5pm. The game will be broadcast on RSN.