No. 2 Florida State (4-0) defeated Wake Forest (1-3-1) by a 4-0 score today in Winston-Salem, NC.
Florida State wasted little time getting started in this game. In the third minute Faith Adams tried to clear the ball for Wake. However, Jaelin Howell was able to keep it in deflecting the ball to Clara Robbins. Robbins spotted a charging Kristen McFarland. Robbins chipped the ball over the head of defender Hannah Betfort. McFarland ran onto it but Wake Keeper Mia Raben challenged the shot and it went wide.
FSU scratched the scoreboard in the sixth minute. Robbins ran onto the ball in midfield and left a beautiful ball down the right flank for McFarland. McFarland one-timed a right-footed cross that split two defenders. Leilanni Nesbeth ran onto the cross and blasted right-footed shot from 18 yards out that nestled into the bottom left corner of the goal for FSU’s first score of the day.
The Seminoles would get their next goal in controversial fashion. In the 12th minute Malia Berkely sent a searching ball into the box looking for Robbins who was posting up against Sophie Faircloth. As the ball came in Faircloth seemed to give Robbins a bit of a push from behind. Robbins went down and the referee blew the whistle and pointed to the spot. This was a soft foul but it did seem that Faircloth gave Robbins a bit of a forearm push in the back and Robbins sold it well by going down. In any event the foul was given and Emily Madril stepped up to take the free kick. Madril calmly slotted the ball into the right corner past Raben and the Noles had a 2-0 lead.
In the 14th minute Kaitlyn Zipay out-fought Faircloth for the ball on the right flank. Zipay laid it off for Robbins who drove into the box and lost the ball to Carrie McIntire. However, McIntire’s clearance went straight to Jaelin Howell who reversed field to a wide open Gabby Carle. Carle took a couple of touches before rifling a rising right-footed blast from distance but Raben was there to catch it.
In the 21st minute FSU got some additional insurance. Howell drove the ball to midfield and found Jenna Nighswonger. Nighswonger took the ball to the Deacon defensive third before passing ahead to a wide open Kristina Lynch on the left flank. Lynch took a touch and then unleashed a right-footed shot from about 19 yards out that was perfectly placed to beat Raben in the lower right corner of the goal.
In the 26th minute the Deacons earned their first good chance of the game. Ryanne Brown collected the ball at midfield. She found a streaking Shayla Smart who was racing down the left flank. Smart took the ball down the left flank while being marked by Madril. Smart and Madril battled for position and eventually Madril was whistled for tripping up Smart. Faith Adams took the free kick for Wake. She delivered a dangerous ball into the six. FSU keeper Cristina Roque got up and punched the ball out. Madril jumped on it and was able to clear the ball out of danger.
However, the Deacons weren’t done. In the 29th minute Reese Kim kept in a Florida State clearance. After a couple of touches Kim spotted a wide open Faircloth on the left flank. Kim delivered a gorgeous ball into Faircloth’s path on the left side of the box. Faircloth took a touch and fired for goal with a left-footed shot from about seven yards out. Roque was perfectly placed and dove down to her left for the save.
In the 32nd minute the Noles generated another chance. Howell laid the ball off for Madril who was charging forward from her spot on the backline. Madril played give and go with Heather Payne on the right flank. Madril received the ball back from Payne and fired a cross just before the ball went over the endline. Payne got it about seven yards out but she couldn’t control the ball cleanly so she had to take an extra touch before her shot. However, she did get off a right-footed shot on frame but Raben came up with a sparkling save sticking out her right hand to deflect the ball from goal.
In the second half the Demon Deacons came out more aggressive and it paid off early. In the 48th minute Ryanne Brown found Giovanna DeMarco down the right flank. DeMarco received the ball and got a step on Madril. DeMarco tried to cross the ball to a charging Abby McNamara but Madril got a foot in the way and deflected the ball out for a corner.
FSU defended the corner well but Wake did a good job keeping the clearance in the Seminole defensive third. Faircloth collected the ball on the right flank. She sent a dangerous ball into the six. Brown tried to run onto it but Roque jumped off her line. Brown clattered into Roque but the FSU keeper managed to still get her hands on it and Malia Berkely cleared the ball out of danger.
In the 73rd minute the Deacons generated another chance. Brown posted up against Carle and flicked a header onto DeMarco. DeMarco dribbled down the right flank against Malia Berkely. DeMarco took a touch to get free and fired a left-footed shot from distance that went just wide. It did look like Roque had it covered though.
In the 83rd minute Berkely picked out Jody Brown with a gorgeous pass all the way from FSU’s defensive third. Wake was pushed up trying for the goal and Brown had gotten behind the defense and was all alone a couple of yards past Wake’s backline. Brown was one on one with new Wake Forest keeper Madison Howard. Howard came off her line to challenge Brown. Brown eluded Howard’s challenge and sent the ball for the open goal. Mia Albery hustled back and saved the ball off the goal line knocking it out of bounds. Brown could have put a little more on the shot but she probably didn’t know that Albery was coming form behind. It was a fantastic hustle play from Albery.
However, the Noles weren’t done. In the 85th minute Ran Iwai intercepted a Wake pass. Iwai immediately found Jenna Nighswonger up the field. Nighswonger laid off a beautiful ball to Yujie Zhao who was racing through the Wake defense. Zhao was one on one with the keeper and Howard came off her line just like she did minutes ago against Brown. This time however there was no defender to come out of nowhere to save the shot as Zhao eluded Howard and coolly put the ball into the open net for the fourth goal of the day for the Noles.
FSU would have one more chance. In the 87th minute Howell collected a pass from Carle and sent a dangerous ball for Heather Payne. The pass was knocked away but the ball went straight to a charging Jody Brown. Brown took a touch and fired a right-footed shot but Howard stuck her right foot out and made a marvelous kick save to deny Brown.
From there the Seminoles closed out the game and walked away with their fourth straight victory.
FSU recorded 17 shots (11 on goal) while limiting Wake to two shots (one on goal).
The Noles came out with only three in the back (Gabby Carle, Emily Madril and Malia Berkely). Usually Kirsten Pavlisko is on the backline but Pavlisko moved up to midfield to start the game.
There is so much talent on this team that Mark Krikorian can act a bit like a mad scientist experimenting and trying new and different combinations. Sixteen players played at least 25 minutes for FSU. There are 11 days until Florida State’s next game against Pitt. There is no telling who will be playing and in what position when FSU steps on the field against the Panthers. The coaches told us before the season that there would be more experimentation with lineups than we would see in a usual season. They are certainly living up to that promise.
Florida State has now outscored their opponents 14-0 on the season and outshot them 78-7. This is obviously domination but how good has the opposition been? FSU’s opponents are now a combined 8-10-1 after today’s games. Virginia Tech got their first win today over Pitt (2-0). Wake is an unimpressive 1-3-1 but their schedule has been killer. Their two regulation losses have come against the top two teams in the country. Their other loss was to Duke in overtime. Notre Dame is 3-1 outscoring their non-FSU opponents 10-0 but their three wins are against very soft competition. Louisville is also 3-1 and have outscored their non-FSU opponents 8-0. However, their three wins are against the same three teams ND beat (Syracuse, Miami and Boston College). It’s hard to rate them because those teams are simply not very good.
In the final analysis I think that Louisville, Wake and Notre Dame have good teams but Florida State is clearly elite. There seems to be a fairly big gap between the elite teams (FSU and North Carolina) and the good teams in the ACC. There is still half of the fall season plus the ACC Tournament and then whatever happens in the spring. However, having watched this team in action I am sold. This is a College Cup worthy team and barring a rash of injuries or some really bad luck the Seminoles will probably get there again this year (assuming the College Cup is actually played of course).
FSU will have the week off before journeying to Pittsburgh to take on the Pitt Panthers (6-2) on Thursday, October 15th at 6pm. The game will be broadcast on the ACCNetwork. Pitt fell today to Virginia Tech (2-0) in Blacksburg, VA.