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No. 1 FSU soccer demolishes No. 25 SMU to advance to the Sweet 16

The Seminoles may be peaking at just the right time.

Syndication: Tallahassee Democrat Tori Lynn Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat / USA TODAY NETWORK

No. 1 Florida State (18-1-2) defeated No. 25 Southern Methodist University (12-5-2) by a 5-1 score tonight at the Seminole Soccer Complex.

Game Recap

In the 17th minute Florida State generated the first good chance. The Seminoles were possessing the ball in the Mustang defensive third. Clara Robbins found Jody Brown on the right side. Brown immediately chipped the ball for Beata Olsson who was making a run in the box. Olsson one-timed a right footed strike to goal. SMU keeper Samantha Estrada dove to her right and knocked the ball away for an impressive save.

In the 21st minute the Noles had another chance. Brown dispossessed Wayny Balata at midfield. The ball went straight to Jenna Nighswonger who turned and raced upfield. Brown took off as well using her speed to jet past the Mustang defense. Nighswonger played a nice ball to Brown who took a touch before spotting Olsson in the middle of the field. Olsson took a touch and delivered a low shot to goal but Estrada was up to the task again kicking the ball away with her right foot.

Courtney Sebazco tried to clear it but Nighswonger came in to deflect the ball into the air. Gabby Carle and Jasmine Vilgrain both went for the ball but Vilgrain gave Carle a hip check while Carle was in the air and Vilgrain was called for the foul.

FSU had a free kick from about 22 yards away. SMU put four players in the wall. Nighswonger and Yujie Zhao stood over the ball for the Seminoles. Both players approached the ball but it was Zhao who actually took the kick. Zhao sent a right footed ball for the near post that caromed off the post and ended up in the right side netting for FSU’s first goal of the game.

Zhao hit the ball almost perfectly but it to be fair it must be pointed out that the wall didn’t do its job.

On free kicks like these it is impossible for the keeper to cover the entire goal so she depends on the wall to protect the part of the goal that she can’t reach and that didn’t happen on this play.

The ball whizzed over the heads of the players in the wall. They should have jumped up and headed the ball away.

I know that it is easy for me to say that when I’m just sitting here writing this article but if you aren’t willing to sacrifice your body a little bit then you shouldn’t be in the wall.

In this instance, the ball goes a bit over the heads of #15 (Abby Dermott) and #22 (Katina Tsapos) before ending up in the back of the net. Those two players actually flinch as the ball zips past them. Estrada made a fantastic effort but she really had no chance to save a ball struck so well.

In the 28th minute the Noles secured another score.

This time it was Brown who again was wreaking havoc on the Mustang back line.

Howell started it by making a tough tackle to knock the ball away from SMU. Nighswonger immediately pounced on the ball knocking it for Brown who was starting her run on the right side.

SMU had pressed forward in the attack so there was an acre of space for Nighswonger’s ball. Brown used her blazing speed to get to the ball before the defenders. When Brown caught up to the ball she was 1v1 with the keeper and she deftly took a touch to get by Estrada then clinically passed the ball into the goal with her left foot.

In the 50th minute FSU widened the lead even further. SMU was possessing in the midfield.

Vilgrain sent a pass back but Olsson flashed forward and intercepted the ball. Olsson was 1v1 with the keeper. Tatum Sutherland (SMU’s new keeper) came out to cut off Olsson’s angle. However, Olsson calmly put on a move to get by her and then sent a right footed shot toward the open goal to give the Noles a 3-0 lead.

To their credit, the Mustangs kept playing.

In the 54th minute they earned their first good chance of the game. Lindsey Whitmore drove the ball down the left side.

Kirsten Pavlisko was defending for FSU. Emily Madril came over to help but Whitmore crossed the ball into the six.

FSU keeper Cristina Roque leapt forward to try to catch the cross but Elizabeth Tse and Gabby Carle (who was marking Tse) came charging in and clattered right into Roque when she was airborne. Fortunately for the Noles the ball trickled out of bounds just wide left. All three players were okay.

In the 72nd minute the Noles kept up the pressure. Madril drove the ball through the midfield before leaving it for Carle who was trailing the play.

Carle took a couple of touches and fired a left footed blast from about 23 yards out into the upper 90 that beat Sutherland to give the Noles a huge 4-0 lead.

This was an amazing shot from Carle as she proved once again that FSU is dangerous from spots all over the field.

However, the Mustangs wouldn’t go away.

In the 81st minute Whitmore drove the ball into the box from the right side. Whitmore was tripped in the box by Madril. This was a clear foul and the referee immediately pointed to the spot.

It’s not often that the player who is fouled takes the penalty but that is what happened in this case as Whitmore stepped up to take the penalty. Whitmore delivered a perfect strike into the upper 90. Roque dove the correct way but the ball was perfectly placed and she had no chance at the save. It was the first time that an SMU player has ever scored a goal against the number one team in the nation.

However, the Noles weren’t finished.

In the 83rd minute Pavlisko received the ball in an attacking position.

With acres of space in front of her Pavlisko drove the ball at the Mustang back line. Pavlisko took the ball to the edge of the box where she was met by Brooke Golik.

Pavlisko dribbled past Golik to the endline. Sutherland came over to challenge her but Pavlisko played it back for an opportunistic Kristina Lynch who toe poked the ball into the goal for the final 5-1 margin.

Lynch did a great job to continue hustling and be in the right place but this goal was created by Pavlisko’s skill to get by Golik and deliver the perfect ball back to Lynch for the tap in.

From there FSU salted the game away and walked off with a 5-1 victory.

Post Game

Florida State had 17 shots to three for SMU. The Noles also had a whopping 13 shots on goal to only two for the Mustangs.

The Seminoles also enjoyed a 65% to 35% edge in possession.

From September 18th to October 15th Florida State played the following opponents: Boston College, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Clemson, Syracuse, Miami and Virginia Tech.

The Noles won each of those games by multiple goals on their way outscoring those opponents by a total of 27-3. FSU was flying high as the only team left in Division One that was unbeaten and untied. Then the Seminoles lost three players to international duty and went 0-1-2 in their last three games of the regular season. FSU got their full team back and went on to win the ACC Championship but it still didn’t feel like the team had found their previous impressive form.

Until tonight.

SMU is no pushover. They are ranked and are also 25th in the RPI.

However, the Mustangs were no match for the FSU team that showed up tonight. The Noles were too fast, too strong and too good tonight.

Coach Chris Petrucelli remarked after the game, “They were really good. I thought that we actually played okay. But the overall athletic quality was outstanding of Florida State. Their ability to pass the ball, keep the ball and try to move you around and create gaps and spaces was really good... Again, I thought our guys did really well but they just had too much for us.”

FSU has been trying to find their best form since getting the full team back. It looks from tonight’s performance that they may have found it. This was the best that I have seen the Noles look since that stretch that I referenced above. If Florida State can keep this up they will give themselves a great chance to earn that third star on the jersey.

Next Game

No. 19 (18th RPI) Pepperdine (17-3-1) awaits. The Waves looked mighty impressive dispatching NC State today without much trouble by a 3-0 score. Both teams like to possess the ball so it will be very interesting to see which team can impose its will for most of the game.

The game will kickoff at 2pm on Sunday from the Seminole Soccer Complex. It will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.