No. 1 Florida State (14-0-1, 7-0-1 ACC) drew tonight 2-2 with No. 7 North Carolina (10-2-3, 3-2-3 ACC).
Florida State got off to a dream start in this game. In the second minute the Seminoles had a free kick from deep in their defensive third. Lauren Flynn took the kick and booted it almost to the midfield stripe. Kristina Lynch was there to flick it forward with a header. Beata Olsson beat Maycee Bell to the ball. Olsson took a touch and spotted UNC keeper Claudia Dickey off her line. Olsson took a shot from about 30 yards out and floated a gorgeous ball over Dickey’s head and into the top right corner of the net to give the Noles the (very) early 1-0 lead. It was the tenth goal on the season for Olsson.
In the 15th minute the Noles generated another chance. It was Olsson again trying to catch Dickey off her line. Clara Robbins headed a goal kick in midfield and Olsson jumped on the ball. Olsson took a touch and unleashed a strike from at least 40 yards out. Dickey was again beaten off her line but this time the ball hit the post instead of going into the back of the net. Olsson barely missed giving FSU a 2-0 lead.
In the 31st minute the Tar Heels found the equalizer. Carolina made one of their patented line changes bringing in five new players at once. Emily Murphy picked up a loose ball in midfield and went for goal. Murphy ran at the FSU defense and then slipped a perfect pass to Isabel Cox that went between two Seminole defenders. Cox one-timed a left-footed shot past Nole keeper Cristina Roque to tie the game at 1-1. Emily Madril and Kristina Lynch both held up their hands calling for offside but the assistant referee didn’t agree and the goal stood.
In the 33rd minute Florida State had another opportunity. Jenna Nighswonger found Jody Brown at the edge of the box. Brown dummied the ball letting it go through her legs where Olsson was waiting. Olsson laid it off for Yujie Zhao who was unmarked behind her. Zhao one-timed a low hard strike for goal but Dickey was there for the save.
In the 62nd minute the Heels took the lead. Sam Meza dispossessed Jaelin Howell at midfield. Meza knocked the ball over to Emily Moxley who had acres of space in front of her. Moxley drove the ball into the Nole defensive third. Cox ran down the field splitting two defenders. Moxley delivered a perfect pass hitting Cox in stride and Cox one-timed a shot from about seven yards out past a charging Roque to give the Tar Heels a 2-1 lead.
However, the Noles wouldn’t quit. In the 65th minute FSU generated another chance. Madril battled a couple of UNC defenders for the ball and then drove into the box. She drew four defenders to her and then delivered a dangerous cross through the box. Nighswonger pounced on it and sent a right-footed cracker toward goal but it was blocked. The ball bounced back to Nighswonger but her rebound shot went over the goal.
Florida State kept the pressure on the Tar Heels. In the 68th minute Howell drove the ball down the right side. She then crossed the ball into the box. Olsson went up for the header but the ball was too high for her. Dickey came off her line to grab it but she wasn’t able to catch it cleanly and the ball fell in the box. Luckily for Carolina the ball fell right to Julia Dorsey who was able to clear it away.
In the 80th minute the Noles were able to level the score. Zhao tracked down a missed clearance in the UNC defensive third. She sent the ball to the middle of the field for an open Nighswonger. Jenna immediately slipped the ball forward where Olsson was just beginning her run. Olsson took a touch and then delivered a clinical right-footed strike into the bottom left corner of the goal to tie the score at 2-2. It was Olsson’s eleventh goal of the year.
UNC generated a chance in the 84th minute. Meza found Moxley on the right side. Moxley took a touch and then delivered a dangerous cross into the FSU box. Murphy went up for the header but it skied over her head and the ball went through the box as Avery Patterson just missed getting her foot on it.
In the 106th minute the Heels generated another chance. Cox battled Flynn for the ball and came away with it on the right flank. She passed it to Murphy who was making a run at the edge of the box. Murphy one-timed an extremely dangerous ball into the middle of FSU’s box. Patterson was there to run onto it but she couldn’t control the ball and it bounced off her leg where it was cleared by Madril.
In the 109th minute UNC generated the last good chance of the game. Moxley received the ball on the right side. She sent a searching ball into the Nole box. Cox leaped up and snapped off a wicked header straight for goal but Roque was there for a sparkling one handed save to keep the game tied. Cox was being marked by Kirsten Pavlisko in the box. Pavlisko fell down on the play and she got up angrily gesturing to the referee that she was pushed by Cox but the referee didn’t blow his whistle.
After that both teams battled to the 2-2 final score.
Florida State outshot the Tar Heels 16 (6 on goal) to 12 (4 on goal).
FSU also had the edge in possession 53%-47%.
Florida State played the game without Gabby Carle (Canada), Heather Payne (Ireland) and Maria Alagoa (Portugal) who were all out due to international callups.
Even though FSU barely had the possession edge tonight the Heels did a great job disrupting the Seminole possession game. The Noles really struggled to get into a rhythm in this game and a lot of the credit has to go to UNC. However, FSU did not have their usual precision passing tonight and it seemed at times that the Noles gave up too quickly on trying to crank up the possession. There were times that the Seminoles seemed rushed. For a team that is usually so composed on the ball it was a bit surprising to witness.
Carolina is a team that is getting healthier at the end of the season and they are playing better soccer. However, as it stands now they would not make the ACC Tournament as only six teams will make it and UNC now stands seventh, three points behind Clemson.
Beata Olsson is a stone cold assassin in front of goal. I’m not sure that I have the words to do her justice but she is so dangerous as a striker. She takes this team to another level.
Jody Brown also stood out in this game but it was for her defense this time. Brown is such a versatile player that she can influence a game in all sorts of ways and this time she did it on the defensive end of the pitch.
With the draw, FSU falls into a first place tie with Virginia who defeated Louisville tonight (4-1). Both teams have 22 points with two games remaining. Both teams are locks to make the ACC Tournament but they would love to finish in the top two so that they would enjoy a first round bye. Notre Dame (18pts) and Duke (16pts) are the only teams mathematically capable of knocking either team out of the top two spots.
FSU will stay in North Carolina as they visit No. 6 Duke (11-2-1) on Sunday. The game will kick off at 2pm and will be broadcast on the ACC Network.