No. 5 Florida State (13-4, 7-2 ACC, #3 RPI) defeated Wake Forest (6-7-4, 1-5-3 ACC, #45 RPI) by a 2-1 score this afternoon in Winston-Salem, NC.
Wake Forest started off strong in this one. In the sixth minute Hayley Younginer and Jaelin Howell were racing for a long ball that was played into FSU’s defensive third. Younginer used a tough shoulder charge to knock Howell to the ground. She then drove unmarked into the Seminole box. Younginer eventually took a right-footed shot that was saved by Caroline Jeffers who dove to her left to stop the ball. The rebound was collected by Ryanne Brown who laid the ball back for a trailing Giovanna DeMarco. DeMarco one-timed a right-footed strike for the lower left corner of the goal that ended up in the back of the net.
In the 14th minute Kristen McFarland stole a pass and charged toward goal. She was taken down by Vicky Krug and FSU was awarded a free kick from just outside the penalty box arc. Krug was shown yellow for the foul. There are many referees who would have taken the red card out of their pocket because it looked like Krug’s foul kept McFarland from a 1v1 chance at goal with the keeper. However, this time the Demon Deacons were lucky as only a yellow card was assessed. Deyna Castellanos stepped up to take the kick but her blast went straight into the wall.
In the 23rd minute McFarland received a chip from Jenna Nighswonger in Wake’s defensive third. McFarland drove the ball forward before finding Clara Robbins who was making a run through the box. Robbins one-timed a cross to Yujie Zhao who was lurking on the edge of the six. Zhao tried to execute a back heel for Heather Payne in front of the goal but the WF defense was able to clear it away.
In the 30th minute the Noles found the equalizer. Kirsten Pavlisko came up from her backline position to field a square ball from Castellanos. Pavlisko battled with DeMarco but managed to execute a nice backheel for an open Nighswonger. Jenna turned and found an open McFarland at the edge of the box. After a couple of touches McFarland was being closed down by Krug and by Demon Deacon keeper Mia Raben coming off her line to cut off the angle. However, McFarland was able to deliver a clinical left-footed chip over Raben to level the game at one.
In the 51st minute Wake generated another chance. Brown received the ball in the midfield. She drove down the right flank and crossed the ball into the box for DeMarco. Malia Berkely was marking Brown and Berkely managed to slightly deflect the cross but it still ended up directly in DeMarco’s path. Jeffers left her line in an attempt to close down DeMarco and she forced DeMarco to shoot it a bit high. The shot caromed off the crossbar and was eventually cleared by Payne and Robbins.
The Deacs weren’t done. In the 53rd minute Hulda Arnarsdottir battled with Pavlisko for a ball in the midfield. Arnarsdottir slipped a nice ball through the Nole defense that was eventually collected by DeMarco. DeMarco took a touch and then fired a right-footed shot that was caught by a perfectly placed Jeffers.
In the 62nd minute Florida State’s persistent pressure finally paid off. Castellanos sent a through ball that was tracked down by a hustling Robbins. Robbins slid to prevent the ball from going over the endline and she managed to deliver a cross into the middle of the box. Howell ran over to receive the cross and she was taken down in the box by Mia Albery but no whistle was heard. Robbins leapt off the ground to get the ball as it was trickling away and she was fouled by Sofia Rossi. This time the ref pointed to the spot and awarded the Seminoles a penalty kick. Both fouls were pretty obvious but the main thing is that FSU was justly awarded the penalty kick. Castellanos stepped up to take it and she delivered perfect strike into the upper left corner of the goal to beat Wake keeper Mia Raben. Even though Raben guessed correctly and dove the right way Castellanos’ shot was perfect and Raben had no chance.
To their credit the Deacs kept fighting. In the 85th minute Albery tracked down a deflected ball in FSU’s defensive third. Albery was challenged by Robbins but she got by her and drove into the box to take a left-footed shot/cross that went just wide of the goal. I think that it was a shot but Abby McNamara came inches away from redirecting the ball into the open goal.
In the 86th minute Wake had another chance. WF chipped a ball into FSU’s box. Abbey Newton cleared with a header. Howell and DeMarco battled for the ball and Howell was called for a foul as the ref decided that she pushed DeMarco down from behind. It was a bit of a soft foul but either way the Deacons were awarded a free kick from about 25 yards away. Hulda Arnarsdottir and Madison Hammond stood over the ball. Hammond leapt over the ball and made a run toward the box. Arnarsdottir delivered a pass to Hammond. Hammond couldn’t reach it but the ball continued dangerously into the box. Jeffers came off her line and dove for the ball. She managed to get a touch on it but couldn’t control it as the ball trickled away. Abbey Newton ran into Jeffers on the ground and Hammond pounced on the ball. Hammond one-timed a right-footed blast that clanged off the near post denying Wake the equalizing goal. From there FSU was able to hang on for the tough 2-1 victory.
Gabby Carle was a late scratch in this game due to an illness that is not thought to be serious.
The game started about 20 minutes late because referee Michael Lavergne’s flight was delayed.
FSU managed only six shots in this game (three on goal). The Noles average 18.4 shots a game in ACC play. FSU’s possession style is great for a lot of reasons but sometimes the Noles get a little too unselfish and they can have a tendency to pass the ball too much instead of going for goal. This happened a couple of times today.
Speaking of possession, FSU had a nearly 2 to 1 advantage in possession in this game. The second goal came as a direct result of the pressure that the Noles are able to apply due to all of the possession they are able to generate. When FSU keeps the ball in the opponent’s defensive zone the Seminoles can take advantage of defensive mistakes like the ones they received today when Wake was called for the foul in the penalty box.
Florida State scored twice today and there was barely any celebration after either goal. The second one was due to a penalty kick so the lack of celebration on that one can be understood. However, on the first goal the Noles gave each other a few high-fives and that was it. There wasn’t really any smiling or hugging or excitement that you normally see after a goal. FSU just treated it in a very business-like manner. This isn’t really a criticism but it was a bit odd to see what looked like a lack of joy after the goal.
Florida State did not play poorly in this game. However, there did seem to be a lack of intensity or passion at times. Wake Forest is a middle of the pack ACC team which means that they are well above average nationally. But FSU has elite talent. That was proven today as the Noles basically out-talented the Deacons. However, if the Seminoles want to advance to an 11th College Cup they will have to get by teams with comparable talent. They will have to bring the intensity to win those games. The Noles have a long history of doing just that in tournament games when it matters most but ho-hum performances like we saw today probably won’t be enough.
With this result Florida State is guaranteed no worse than a third place ACC finish with one game left to play. Virginia is technically tied with FSU at second with 21 points each but the Hoos have a head-to-head victory over the Noles so they would win the tie-breaker. UVA’s last game is against a Syracuse team that is tied for last place in the ACC so it would be a mammoth upset for them not to get a win against the Orange. Therefore, it is very likely that the Noles will end up with the third seed in the ACC Tournament. Right now that would mean that NC State would visit Tallahassee for the opening round game. However, the Wolfpack’s place in the standings is far from secure as Clemson is only one point behind and Virginia Tech and Notre Dame are only two points behind. Realistically, any one of those four teams could end up in sixth place and a date with FSU in Tallahassee on November 3rd.
Florida State will welcome the (9) Duke Blue Devils to Tallahassee for a match on Halloween night. The kickoff is at 8pm and the game will be broadcast on the ACC Network.