No. 1 Florida State (13-0-0, 6-0-0 ACC) defeated Miami (FL) (4-8-0, 1-5-0 ACC) by a 4-1 score today at the Seminole Soccer Complex in front of 1,397 fans.
Miami generated the first good chance of the game. In the 10th minute the Canes earned a corner kick. The ball was served into the box at the edge of the six. Emily Madril went up for the header but Lauren Meeks got her head on it first. Her header went to Jaelin Howell who tried to clear the ball. Her clearance was blocked by Jackie Koerwitz. Lauren Flynn then tried to clear it but she inadvertently kicked it into Howell’s leg. Kirsten Pavlisko was eventually able to clear it.
In the 17th minute Florida State earned a corner kick. Yujie Zhao stepped up to take it for the Seminoles. Zhao served it to the near post where it was headed up into the air by Miami. Flynn leaped up at the far post to knock it back into the mixer. Beata Olsson tried to volley it but her shot was blocked by Cane keeper Melissa Dagenais. Koerwitz tried to clear the rebound but Kristina Lynch kept the ball in the box. However, Annie Blair intercepted it and cleared the ball away.
In the 23rd minute FSU earned another corner. Jenna Nighswonger served the ball into the box. It was knocked away by UM but Gabby Carle tracked it down and served a dangerous ball back into the box. Olsson was there unmarked and she tried to one-time a right footed volley but her shot went wide.
In the 32nd minute Madril drove the ball through the midfield and found Ran Iwai in the attacking third. Iwai spotted LeiLanni Nesbeth making a run but the ball got by Nesbeth (and everyone else) and went all the way across the field to the left flank where Emma Bissell tracked it down. Bissell one-timed a right footed shot to the near post but Dagenais was perfectly placed for the save.
In the 39th minute Florida State kept up the pressure. Carle took the ball down the left flank. She laid it off for Bissell who was making an overlapping run. Bissell sent a left footed cross into the box. The cross was blocked but Iwai pounced on it and sent a low left footed drive toward goal but Dagenais was again up to the task going low to kick the ball away. Nesbeth kept it in and sent it over to Iwai but her turn around shot went wide right.
In the 42nd minute FSU generated another quality chance. Madril passed the ball upfield for Iwai. Maria Alagoa made a run right next to Iwai that drew the defense. Iwai noticed Carle making a run that split the Cane defense. Iwai delivered a gorgeous pass to Carle who took a touch and then sent a left footed shot to goal from about seven yards out. Dagenais got down and made another fantastic save to keep her clean sheet.
In the 48th minute the Noles had another chance. Pavlisko passed the ball for Nighswonger who was lurking in the midfield. Nighswonger one-timed the ball to Jody Brown who was streaking down the right flank. Brown ran at the Cane defense before sending the ball back over to Nighswonger. The ball got by Jenna but she was able to deflect it straight to Olsson who one-timed a right footed shot for goal but Dagenais made the save once again.
However, FSU kept pressing. In the 49th minute Howell stole the ball and immediately passed it forward to Zhao in the midfield. Zhao ran at Miami’s retreating backline eventually slipping a pass to Olsson on the left. Olsson took a couple of touches and delivered a right footed strike to goal. Dagenais again came up huge diving to her left to save the shot with two hands. Howell eventually corralled the rebound but she was fouled by Koerwitz. Zhao took the free kick and chipped the ball into the box. Howell and Koerwitz both went up for the header but the ball floated over everyone’s head and bounced in the box. The ball bounced off a couple of players before Howell pounced on it sending a left-footed one-timer to goal. Dagenais continued her amazing goal keeping by getting down and blocking the shot with her body. Olsson was there for the rebound but her shot was blocked by Selena Fortich.
I just want to mention that FSU could have easily been up by three or four goals at this point but the brilliance of Dagenais was simply unreal.
However, it wouldn’t last. In the 51st minute Carle found Nighswonger in the box. Nighswonger tried to make a move but she was taken down by Delaney Brown. The referee immediately pointed to the spot. Zhao stepped up to take it and after a stutter step she sent a shot into the lower left corner. Dagenais actually guessed correctly but the ball was placed perfectly and FSU had a 1-0 lead.
If this game was closer that penalty call would have been hugely controversial. Brown did make contact with Nighswonger from behind and it was in the box so from that standpoint the penalty was legit. However, there really wasn’t much contact. Nighswonger went down very easily (veteran move) hoping to draw the penalty and it worked. There are more than a few referees who would have probably told Nighswonger to just get up but fortunately for FSU JC Griggs wasn’t one of them.
In the 52nd minute FSU earned a corner. Nighswonger took it and sent the ball to the near post. Madril deflected it toward goal but Dagenais reached out and made another impressive save with her right hand. Dagenais was simply standing on her head at this point.
In the 57th minute Howell sent the ball forward for Zhao in the midfield. Zhao turned and ran at the Hurricane defense. She laid it off for Brown on the right side. Jody put a move on Emma Tucker and got by the defender at the edge of the six. She then sent a beautifully weighted cross over to an unmarked Carle who banged the ball into the back of the net. It was Carle’s second goal of the season and it was Brown’s ninth assist of the year. FSU now had a 2-0 lead.
In the 65th minute Nighswonger received a pass from Pavlisko. Nighswonger battled with the defense before finding some space and launching a left footed rocket to goal from the edge of the 18, The curling ball just missed landing in the top left corner of the net. Jenna just barely missed getting on the SportsCenter top 10 with that shot.
In the 70th minute FSU generated another great chance. Flynn sent a beautiful long ball upfield for Alagoa to run onto. Alagoa did just that splitting a pair of defenders to catch up to the ball for a 1v1 chance with Dagenais. However, Dagenais again came through with a sparkling left footed save to deny Alagoa.
In the 71st minute the Noles broke through again. Nesbeth found Iwai in the center of the field. Iwai took a touch and sent it over for Amelia Horton on the right flank. Horton beat Emma Tucker with her first touch eventually sending the ball over to Iwai who one-timed a right footed shot that hit the bottom of the crossbar before bouncing into the goal.
However, to their credit, the Canes didn’t quit. In the 75th minute Mia Atrio spotted Tucker streaking down the left flank. Tucker then sent a dangerous left footed cross into the box. The ball bounced past Madril and Gudrun Haralz pounced on it blasting it into the back of the net to put Miami on the scoreboard.
In the 83rd minute Madril found Horton up the field. Horton turned and crossed it over for Nesbeth in the middle of the field. Nesbeth took a touch and blasted a shot from about 25 yards away. You Know Who (Dagenais) was there again to make another outstanding save knocking the ball over the crossbar.
In the 90th minute Florida State added another goal. Nesbeth stole the ball deep in the attacking third. She beat a defender driving toward the box. Nesbeth spotted Gianna Mitchell lurking in the box. Mitchell took a couple of touches beating a pair of defenders before slipping a low shot past a diving Dagenais to give FSU the final 4-1 margin. It was the fifth goal of the year for Mitchell.
FSU had 32 shots (18 on goal) to two shots for Miami (FL) (one on goal).
Miami keeper Melissa Dagenais had a career high 14 saves.
Florida State had a 75% to 25% advantage in possession.
FSU has now won every ACC game by at least three goals.
Despite the huge advantage in shots and the 4-1 victory, the Seminoles did not have their A game today. “It wasn’t our best game but it was a solid performance.” said Mark Krikorian. “I’m not sure that we were quite as sharp as we needed to be. We didn’t move the ball crisply, we weren’t as patient and kind of ran into situations where they had good numbers and I thought that we were naive at times in our attack but they are young players and we have to keep working to get better and there is no lack of effort so you put the effort in (and) you give yourself a chance.”
The schedule is long and it is tough to play your best every game especially when the opponent is struggling as a program. It was against a 4-8 team but it is still impressive to be able to get a 4-1 victory while not playing your best game.
However, FSU would have won this game approximately 100-1 if not for the inspired performance from Dagenais. It was unbelievable to see her make save after incredible save.
Florida State now has the meat of its schedule left. For the rest of the year (except maybe the first round of the NCAA Tournament) FSU will be facing quality teams. The Noles have (19) Virginia Tech next followed by (5) North Carolina, (4) Duke and (2) Virginia before the ACC Tournament. There are obviously no cupcakes left. This is what the team has been preparing for all year. We will see how they meet the challenge.
Florida State will travel to Blacksburg to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies on Friday, October 15th at 5pm. The game will be broadcast on RSN.