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No. 6 Florida State soccer hangs on against Boston College

The Seminoles survive in a high octane game.

NCAA Soccer: DI Women’s College Cup Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

(6) Florida State (7-2, 1-0 ACC) defeated Boston College (7-1-1, 0-1 ACC) by a 5-4 score tonight in Tallahassee at the Seminole Soccer Complex.

Game Recap

Florida State had the edge in possession early but Boston College actually earned the first dangerous opportunity. In the eighth minute Emily Langenderfer stole the ball at midfield for BC. She sent the ball over to Olivia Vaughn. Vaughn passed a ball to a streaking Sam Smith but Nole keeper Caroline Jeffers reached the ball first and scooped it up.

In the 10th minute Kristen McFarland collected the ball in the right corner after a nice pass from Gabby Carle. McFarland turned and found Jenna Nighswonger cutting into the 18 yard box. Nighswonger drew the defense and left the ball off for Deyna Castellanos at the edge of the box. Castellanos uncorked a drive that was stopped by Eagle keeper Allie Augur.

The Eagles broke the ice in the 11th minute. BC earned a corner kick. Jillian Jennings lofted a ball into the six yard box. It was headed out by Jaelin Howell. The ball went up in the air. Carle and Michela Agresti both went up for the header. It ricocheted over to Sam Smith and she took a half volley off of a bounce and sent the ball into the back of the net. FSU was a little bit unlucky as the ball went straight to Smith but the Noles have to mark better on set-pieces (a theme that we will revisit soon).

In the 14th minute Howell switched the field spotting Abby Newton on the left flank. Newton sent the ball back for Kirsten Pavlisko. Pavlisko squared the ball up for Nighswonger in the middle of the field. Nighswonger sent a missile toward the goal that hit the crossbar and bounced out to McFarland. Unfortunately for FSU, McFarland couldn’t control the carom well enough for a one-timer and Augur did a good job to disrupt McFarland’s rebound chance. Instead, McFarland played it back for Yujie Zhao who was following up the play. Zhao tried to knock it into the goal but she was denied by Michela Agresti who did a great job hustling back on defense to clear the ball off the line.

In the 24th minute FSU earned a free kick deep in BC territory when Castellanos was fouled by Sam Smith. Malia Berkely took the kick for the Seminoles sending a great ball into the box. Abby Newton was there to get a head on it and her header went across the box hitting the far post. Castellanos was there for the rebound but her header went over the goal.

In the 26th minute the Noles earned a corner. Castellanos took it and sent a dangerous ball to the far post. Howell was there for a header that was on target but it was blocked by Mia Karras who was guarding the post for BC.

In the 27th minute FSU finally cashed in on an opportunity. Castellanos sprung McFarland with a beautiful ball out of the midfield. McFarland beat Sydney Moore to the ball and put a move on Augur who had come off her line. McFarland then calmly slotted the ball into the back of the net to level the game at one. It was McFarland’s third goal of the season.

In the 29th minute Heather Payne slipped a great pass for Carle who was cutting into the box. Carle let loose a left footed shot that was caught by a well positioned Augur.

In the 30th minute after another spell of possession by FSU, Howell squared up a wide open Payne who sent a screamer of a shot from distance that went barely over the crossbar.

In the 38th minute the Noles took the lead. Leilanni Nesbith collected the ball at midfield. She sent a nice ball down the right flank for Carle. Carle ran onto it and found an unmarked Makala Thomas in the box. Thomas turned and fired a perfectly placed shot into the lower left corner of the goal to give the Seminoles a 2-1 lead. It was the first goal of her career at Florida State.

In the 40th minute the Eagles earned a corner. Karras sent a ball curving toward goal. Caroline Jeffers was well positioned for FSU to meet the ball. However, instead of catching it Jeffers decided to punch it. Unfortunately she didn’t get enough on it and the ball went straight to Gianna Mitchell who volleyed it into the back of the net to tie the game at two apiece.

In the 48th minute Florida State earned a corner. Castellanos sent a perfect ball curling toward goal. It ended up in the back of the net but the referee called a foul on Heather Payne for impeding the goal keeper.

In the 49th minute Jeffers came up big. Samantha Agresti stole the ball for Boston College at midfield knocking it over to Mitchell. Mitchell returned the favor by slipping a gorgeous ball between a pair of Nole defenders to find a sprinting Agresti. Jeffers came off her line to cut off the angle for the shot. Agresti tried to send one past her but Jeffers made a fantastic play to get her left hand up to block the shot.

In the 54th minute, the Noles took another lead. Howell stole a BC pass. She found McFarland at the top of the box. McFarland turned and passed to a wide open Nighswonger in the middle of the box. Augur came off her line to close down Nighswonger but Jenna kept possession and got by Augur on her way to firing a shot that ended up in the lower right hand corner of the goal to give the Seminoles a 3-2 lead. It was Nighswonger’s fourth goal of the season.

In the 55th minute FSU had another chance. Howell sent the ball over to Pavlisko who made one of her patented runs from the back at the defense. Pavlisko left a pair of Eagle defenders standing in cement on her way to sending a shot ticketed for the lower left corner of the goal. Augur came off her line and made a great dive to save it but it got past her and hit the left post. Castellanos was standing there and calmly knocked the ball into the goal. Unfortunately for the Noles the assistant referee had his flag up calling her offside. Unfortunately VAR is not used for offside calls in the college game (it is internationally) as the replay seemed to show that Deyna was actually onside and the goal should have been allowed.

In the 62nd minute BC earned another corner. Jade Ruiters stepped up to take it for the Eagles. She drove a dangerous ball into the six. Sam Smith made a tremendous play to cut in and nail a header past Jeffers to tie the score at three.

In the 67th minute Jaelin Howell dribbled the ball up the field for FSU. She spotted Castellanos who blasted a shot from about 20 feet toward goal. Augur came up with a sensational save to deny Castellanos. However, the ball went over the endline to give the Noles a corner. On the ensuing corner Castellanos sent a gorgeous ball to the far post. Gabby Carle was waiting to get a header that deflected off the post into the goal to give Florida State a 4-3 lead. It was Carle’s first goal of the season.

In the 70th minute the Seminoles widened their lead. Howell dribbled the ball into BC’s defensive third. She laid it off for Castellanos who toe poked it through the BC defense. Nighswonger ran onto it and put a slick move on a defender to get free before rifling a shot past Augur to give the Noles a 5-3 lead. It was Jenna’s fifth goal of the season.

To their credit the Eagles refused to quit. In the 85th minute BC earned another corner. FSU managed to clear it but BC kept the pressure on. Mitchell collected the ball at the top of the box. She sent it into the box where it bounced off of a couple of defenders before Olivia Vaughn chased it down. Vaughn fired the ball into the back of the net to close FSU’s final margin of victory to one at 5-4.

Post Game

This was the first game that Florida State has played since the news broke that junior midfielder Gloriana Villalobos was leaving the team. The Costa Rican national was in her third year playing for FSU and she had established her place in the starting lineup. Her aggressiveness and technical ability will be missed on the field but her absence will probably be greatest felt in the locker room. Villalobos was loved by her teammates and that friendship is probably what will be missed the most. Deyna Castellanos left her a heart felt message on Instagram. The translation is below:

Today is one of the most difficult days I’ve had in the last 3 years. 3 years ago you came to make my life happy and save me, without you I would not have been able to finish my university career because I would have left here a long time ago. You are light in my life and in all those around you. Thank you for always making the best of me and all our friends. I admire you for how brave you are in wanting to follow your heart and it makes you happy, I admire you for how brave you are and for doing what no one else would dare. In this new way that is about to appear before you, I have only to wish you the best, with the greatest blessings of this life and that you are the happiest person in the world. Without a doubt the best 3 years of my life and I owe that to you. See you soon best friend. Remember that we have a deal where you go I will be with you even if we are not in the same place I always carry you in my heart. Keep celebrating life as only you know how to do it, keep making people happy as only you know how to do it, still being the best person in this world because like you we need a billion more people. I love you, we soon hit the party in Costa Rica, Venezuela, USA, Europe, where we put our lives together again. I LOVE YOU

Villalobos was forced to leave the team and withdraw from school for personal reasons according to the University. Whatever the reason Villalobos will be sorely missed.

FSU had over 70% possession in this game yet they conceded four goals. Three of those goals were directly from corner kicks while the fourth was indirectly from a corner kick. The Noles simply have to mark better on set-pieces. Against Colorado they conceded a set-piece goal to Taylor Kornieck. That was more understandable because the 6’1 Kornieck just used her superior size to her best advantage. However, BC doesn’t have anyone that size. They were able to score because of poor marking and an error from Jeffers in goal (although she made up for it with a spectacular save later). If the Seminoles can’t figure this out they will be no match for the upper crust of the ACC.

The good news is that the Noles generated a TON of opportunities offensively using that possession style. There were stretches in this game where Florida State looked as good as they have at any time in the last five years applying pressure to the Eagle defense. FSU also has a number of creative players who know how to score around the goal. This team has a ton of potential offensively.

Boston College suffered their first loss tonight but that gaudy record is a bit suspect because of the level of competition. However, the Eagles are a good team that I expect to make the NCAA Tourney. Therefore, a win against them is a good one. However, at home the Noles should not give up four goals to anyone much less a non-ranked team. There is work to be done here especially on defense. The good news is that this is only the first ACC game so there is plenty of time to work out the kinks.

Next Game

The Seminoles will enjoy a week off before traveling to No. 10 Clemson on September 26th. The game will kick off at 7:30 and will be broadcast on RSN.