No. 1 Florida State (11-0-0, 4-0-0 ACC) defeated Clemson (7-4-0, 2-2-0 ACC) by a 4-1 score tonight at Clemson, SC.
Clemson started this game out strong against the top rated Seminoles. In the second minute the Tigers executed a dangerous counter attack. Clemson intercepted an FSU pass. Maliah Morris tracked the ball down and sent a beautiful ball upfield for her younger sister Makenna Morris who was wide open in the middle of the field. Makenna dribbled forward against Emily Madril but she had no support from teammates. The ball was eventually knocked away from her by Lauren Flynn but Renee Lyles caught up to the ball at the edge of the box. Lyles attempted to cross it but Clara Robbins blocked it out of bounds for a corner. Renee Guion stepped up to take the corner for the Tigers. Guion sent a searching ball to the far post. The ball went straight to Flynn who tried to clear it but it went off her foot into the goal and Clemson jumped out to a 1-0 lead after the own goal.
!!!!— Clemson Women's Soccer (@clemsonwsoccer) October 1, 2021
Just three minutes into the game, Renee Guion's corner kick results in an own goal to put Clemson on top 1-0 early! pic.twitter.com/4URX53WuRv
Clemson kept up the pressure on the Noles and generated another chance in the eighth minute. FSU keeper Cristina Roque took a goal kick. Roque sent it over to to Flynn who was immediately pressured by Maliah Morris. Flynn tried to clear the ball but Morris stuck her left foot out to block it and the ball went straight up into the air just outside the six. It eventually fell at Morris’ feet but Jaelin Howell came out of nowhere to knock the ball away.
FSU was down but the Seminoles didn’t panic. The Noles kept playing their game and were rewarded in the 18th minute. FSU built the attack through the midfield. Howell switched the field finding Jody Brown on the right flank. Brown dribbled at the Tiger defense. She eventually laid the ball off for Kirsten Pavlisko who was making an overlapping run. Pavlisko took the ball straight into the teeth of the Tiger defense in front of goal. Pavlisko was walled off by three Clemson defenders but she persisted and when the ball trickled through the defense Pavlisko was there to knock it into the back of the net with her left foot for Florida State’s first goal.
FSU kept up the pressure and grabbed the lead in the 23rd minute. Flynn drove the ball through the midfield eventually picking out Kristina Lynch on the left side. Lynch drove the ball deeper eventually executing a left footed cross into the box. Beata Olsson was in the box occupying a defender but Olsson let the ball go past her and Jenna Nighswonger swooped in and slammed a left footed one-timer past Tiger keeper Halle Mackiewicz to give the Noles a 2-1 lead.
In the 19th minute Clemson earned a chance to respond. Hal Hershfelt drove the ball through the midfield. She tried to pick out a teammate on the left side but Pavlisko knocked the pass away. The ball went to Lyles who took a touch but then was taken down from behind by Nighswonger. The referee initially looked like he was going to play advantage but when that didn’t materialize quickly enough for Clemson he blew his whistle. Clemson had a free kick almost straight on goal from about 25 yards out. Nighswonger, Olsson, Lynch and Howell formed the wall for Florida State. Renee Guion and Megan Bornkamp stood over the ball for Clemson. Bornkamp faked like she was going to take it but it was Guion who sent a left footed shot for goal. Roque slid over to her right to block the shot and eventually catch it to keep the score at 2-1.
In the 42nd minute the Seminoles earned another chance. Flynn spotted Gabby Carle on the left flank. Carle passed it to Emma Bissell at the edge of the box. Bissell crossed it to a charging Nighswonger who one-timed a right footed shot that went just wide left of goal.
In the 47th minute Clara Robbins collected a loose ball in the midfield. She sent it forward for Brown on the right side. Brown battled for the ball and eventually sent a hard left footed shot for goal. The shot was blocked by Bornkamp but Olsson collected it and knocked a shot that went just wide right of goal.
In the 54th minute Olsson received the ball on the right side with her back to goal. She turned and beat Bornkamp racing for the goal. Bornkamp reached out and grabbed Olsson’s arm taking her to the ground about a foot outside the box. Bornkamp was shown yellow for her efforts and FSU had a free kick in a dangerous spot. LeiLanni Nesbeth took the free kick for FSU. Nesbeth sent a chip for goal but Mackiewicz had no problem with it.
In the 57th minute Clemson generated another chance. Howell battled with Lyles for a ball the was cleared to midfield. Howell was called for the foul and was eventually booked with a yellow card. Clemson took the free kick quickly and found Makenna Morris racing down the left side. Morris caught up to the ball and was able to get by Pavlisko. She sent a right footed blast to goal but Roque was perfectly placed for the save.
Clemson kept charging. In the 61st minute. The Tigers intercepted an FSU pass in midfield and raced toward goal. Makenna Morris ran at the Nole defense. Madril stepped up to challenge her but Morris poked the ball past Madril and Caroline Conti ran onto it. Conti sent a shot toward goal that was blocked by Flynn in the box. Conti immediately appealed for a handball but replays showed that the ball hit Flynn in the chest and shoulder. The referee was right to ignore Conti’s appeal.
Florida State had a chance in the 63rd minute. Brown collected the ball in midfield eventually laying it off for Yujie Zhao after taking a couple of touches. Zhao played it back for Brown in the middle of the field. Brown showed her skill by beating three Tigers before finding Nighswonger on the left side. Nighswonger played it back for a charging Zhao who sailed a left footed shot over the crossbar.
Later in the 63rd minute Brown and Zhao played give and go in the midfield with Brown eventually slipping a pass for Olsson between two defenders. Olsson took a couple of touches and sent a right footed shot past a diving Mackiewicz into the back of the net. This was not bad defense from Clemson as Caitlin Smith was right where she was supposed to be challenging Olsson. This was just great offense from FSU with the excellent pass from Brown and the superb finishing of Olsson. The goal put the Seminoles up 3-1.
However, Olsson wasn’t done. In the 65th minute, Flynn drove the ball through the midfield finding Carle on the left side. Carle caught up to the ball before it went over the end line and sent a left footed cross into the box where Olsson was lurking. Olsson collected the ball and expertly turned beating Hershfelt who had come over to challenge her. Olsson then sent a right footed missile past Mackiewicz for the fourth goal of the night for Florida State.
From there the Seminoles salted away their eleventh win of the season.
Florida State had 15 shots (8 on goal) while Clemson had four shots (2 on goal).
The win was Mark Krikorian’s 300th victory as FSU’s head coach.
The Tigers are a quality team that will very likely make the NCAA Tournament. However, they were outclassed by Florida State on their home field in a game in which they didn’t really play that badly. FSU is just that good.
Florida State has so many players that can strike from so many places that it is really hard to deal with for 90 minutes. Clemson (especially in the second half) did a pretty good job keeping the Noles from cranking up the possession but FSU can score at any time even when not dominating possession. FSU had 61% of the possession in this game which is low by FSU’s standards (but high by almost anyone else’s standards).
Clemson even forced Florida State keeper Cristina Roque into a couple of saves. It didn’t end up mattering in the end because the Seminoles are just that good.
When FSU got down 1-0 early they didn’t panic. That is emblematic of this veteran team. They don’t panic when things don’t go their way. They trust their system and their talent. They believe that the goals will come if they continue to play their brand of soccer and (so far this year) they have been proven right.
This game was an example of a good team playing a great team and the great team proving their greatness even though the good team didn’t really play badly. This is another data point that shows how hard it is to beat FSU unless they play a C- or D game. Even though Clemson got a lucky goal to start the game FSU has so much firepower that it almost doesn’t matter. That increase in firepower is the biggest difference between this team now and the team that we saw in the NCAA Tournament in May.
Florida State returns home to host Syracuse (4-5-1, 0-3-0 ACC) on Thursday, October 7th. The game will kickoff at 7pm and will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.