(6) Florida State (8-2, 2-0 ACC) defeated (9) Clemson (7-1-1, 1-1 ACC) by a 2-1 score tonight in Clemson, SC.
Florida State had their patented possession tactics working well early. The Noles were able to parlay the possession into the first goal of the game. In the eleventh minute, Malia Berkely drove the ball into Clemson’s defensive third. She found Deyna Castellanos in the middle of the field about 25 yards from goal. Castellanos turned and chipped a gorgeous ball into the path of Yujie Zhao who was cutting into the box. Zhao collected the ball with a beautiful first touch that got her by Clemson keeper Sandy Maciver. Zhao then calmly sent the ball into the back of the net with a left-footed strike to give the Seminoles a 1-0 lead.
In the 17th minute the Noles struck again. Jenna Nighswonger reversed field and found Zhao in the middle of the pitch. Zhao laid the ball off for Abbey Newton down the left flank. Newton crossed the ball over for Castellanos who one-timed a left footed shot from the penalty spot that hit the bottom of the crossbar before ending up in the back of the net.
In the 32nd minute the Tigers generated a quality chance. Maliah Morris tracked down a ball on the left edge of the box. Caroline Jeffers came off her line to challenge Morris. Morris regained control of the ball and sent a cross into the box trying to take advantage of the open goal. The ball dangerously went through a couple of people before Jaelin Howell intercepted it and cleared it safely away.
In the 42nd minute, Newton and Courtney Jones were racing for a ball. Newton ran into Jones and was called for a foul at the edge of FSU’s box. Newton was injured on the play but she returned to the game in the second half. Renee Guion took the free kick for Clemson but Jeffers caught the ball for the save.
In the 44th minute Clemson cut the lead in half. Clemson earned a corner kick off of a nice one handed diving save from Jeffers. Guion took the corner for the Tigers. She sent a ball into the box that deflected off of Mackenzie Smith. Unfortunately for Florida State the ball went directly to Morris who was standing at the edge of the box. Morris took a touch to control the ball before blasting a right-footed shot over Jeffers into the upper right hand corner of the goal. FSU’s lead was cut to 2-1.
In the 54th minute Zhao brought the ball up field and found Nighswonger on the right flank. Nighswonger got the ball to McFarland who was posting up in the box. McFarland eventually managed to turn and deliver a cross for Newton who was lurking in front of the goal. However before Newton could get a foot on it Jackson Moehler was able to get in front and clear it for Clemson.
In the 60th minute Jones received the ball on the right flank and dribbled in before slipping a great ball to Caroline Conti who was streaking down the middle of the field. Jeffers showed great judgment coming off her line and beating Conti to the ball.
After that FSU was able to hold on and get a nice road win over a top 10 ranked Clemson squad.
Florida State started this game off great dominating possession and the two goals featured precision passing as well as clinical finishing. However, after the first 20 minutes the Noles struggled to generate many offensive opportunities. Clemson also didn’t have many opportunities as they were frustrated by Seminole possession.
This game was a tale of two halves. The Noles basically had their way in the first half. However, in the second half Clemson was able to successfully short circuit FSU’s dominating possession in large part by successfully using high pressure. Unfortunately for the Tigers they still weren’t able to generate many dangerous opportunities but they definitely were much improved in the second half.
Florida State’s corner kick issues continued tonight. This time it was the second ball that hurt the Noles as the deflection went straight out to Morris for the open shot. It was a great finish by Morris but the Noles must find a way to mark better on these set-pieces in their defensive third.
Florida State used only two subs in the whole game. Makala Thomas came in the game in the 40th minute for Kristen McFarland and when Newton got hurt (she returned to the game) she came out at the end of the first half and was replaced by Kristina Lynch. Therefore, FSU only subbed once the whole game by choice. I can’t remember when I have seen a Mark Krikorian team substitute so little. Thomas and Lynch - the only subs - played a total of eight minutes. FSU lost Gloriana Villalobos for the season and that has certainly impaired FSU’s depth. Things could get dicey for this team if there are any injuries. This will be a storyline to watch for the rest of the season.
The Noles will head north to take on Syracuse (2-4-2, 0-0-1 ACC). The game will kick off at 1pm on Sunday and will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.