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Season ends for FSU soccer with an Elite 8 loss to UCLA

Today wasn’t FSU’s day.

2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship Photo by Timothy Nwachukwu/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

(1) Florida State (18-6) fell today to (2) UCLA (18-4-1) by a 4-0 score at the Seminole Soccer Complex.

Game Recap

UCLA got off to a flying start. In the eighth minute Jessie Fleming found Karina Rodriguez streaking down the left flank. Rodriguez took a touch and then sent a cross into the box for Chloe Castaneda. Castaneda one-timed a left-footed shot that was blocked straight into the air by Kirsten Pavlisko. Mia Fishel was there to head the ball back across the goal for Castaneda who executed a clinical right-footed half-volley into the open goal to give the Bruins an early 1-0 lead.

In the 10th minute UCLA nearly doubled the lead. Yujie Zhao laid the ball off for Gabby Carle. The pass was a bit too far for Carle so she went to ground to try to get a foot on it. She managed to knock the ball away but it went into the path of Ashley Sanchez. Sanchez quickly drove the ball toward the goal. Caroline Jeffers came out to cut off her angle and Sanchez tried to chip the ball over her but Jeffers blocked it. Carle raced back to clear the ball over the endline.

In the 18th minute the Bruins extended their lead. After a throw-in Anika Rodriguez sent a beautiful ball over the top for Castaneda who received it in the box. Castaneda turned to get away from Carle and rifled a shot that found a home in the lower right corner of the goal to give UCLA a 2-0 lead.

The Bruins weren’t done. In the 32nd minute Sanchez stole the ball and raced upfield. She found Mia Fishel who was just barely onside (according to the assistant referee) cutting into the box. Jeffers came off her line and blocked the ball. However, Fishel managed to get the rebound and she was able to one-time a right-footed half volley into the back of the net to give UCLA a commanding 3-0 lead.

In the 33rd minute UCLA had another great chance. Maricarmen Reyes drove the ball into the Seminole defensive third. She found Delanie Sheehan on the right flank. Sheehan took a touch and fired a rocket from distance. The ball clanged off the crossbar and Clara Robbins was able to clear the rebound over the endline.

In the 54th minute the Bruins secured another goal. FSU’s season long issue defending set-pieces returned to haunt them again. UCLA earned a corner kick. Viviana Villacorta stepped up to take it. She sent an out-swinger that was headed back into the six by Fishel. Somehow the ball got through a thicket of bodies in the box and ended up in the goal to give the Bruins a 4-0 lead.

In the 61st minute UCLA threatened again. Rodriguez crossed the ball into the box from the right flank. Fishel sliced through and headed the ball toward the goal. It clanged off the right post and Jeffers caught the rebound to end the threat.

From there the Bruins salted the game away and they march on to the College Cup after a 4-0 victory in Tallahassee.

Post Game

UCLA finished with 12 shots (6 on goal) while the Noles had seven shots (two on goal).

FSU is now 47-2-1 all-time at home in the NCAA Tournament. The only other loss was to Notre Dame in 2009.

FSU conceded four goals today. The Noles had only conceded seven total goals in their last 30 home games combined.

This was the worst loss for Florida State in any game since Nov. 26th, 2010 when the Noles fell to Stanford in the Elite 8 in Palo Alto 5-0.

This game was a complete stunner. The result wasn’t stunning. UCLA, especially lately, is an elite team. However, the margin is almost unbelievable. It’s really hard to imagine Florida State losing 4-0 in Tallahassee to any team particularly in the NCAA Tournament but it happened today.

We could spend a lot of time discussing tactics and strategy to determine what went wrong for FSU today. However, simply stated the Bruins beat the Noles in every phase and at every level in this game. Not a single player, coach, staff person or fan in Garnet and Gold had a good day today.

This disappointing result does not detract from the great careers that seniors Deyna Castellanos and Caroline Jeffers had at Florida State. Both players were important reasons why the Seminoles captured the national championship last year and they both will leave quite a legacy in Tallahassee. Castellanos in particular leaves as one of the most decorated players in FSU history. Her talent and magical goals won’t be soon forgotten. She will be remembered as one of the most gifted players to ever wear Garnet and Gold.

Now the focus will turn to next year. Florida State will be back with a vengeance. The Noles will be a top five team again next year due to several players returning from injury and a top notch recruiting class. We will have more on the program in the coming weeks and months but for now we congratulate Florida State on another great season.