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No. 1 FSU soccer survives a thriller against No. 9 Michigan to advance to the College Cup

The Seminoles advance to their 12th College Cup in program history

Florida State Soccer

No. 1 Florida State (20-1-2) defeated No. 9 Michigan (18-4-3) by a 1-0 score in overtime at the Seminole Soccer Complex to advance to the College Cup.

Game Recap

In the eighth minute Florida State generated the first good chance of the game. Dani Wolfe and Jaelin Howell were going for a loose ball. Wolfe was whistled for a foul as she clipped Howell while they jousted for the ball.

LeiLanni Nesbeth and Jenna Nighswonger stood over the ball for the free kick from about 30 yards away. Nesbeth played it short for Clara Robbins who immediately played it out wide to Emily Madril on the right side.

Madril sent in a dangerous ball into the six. Beata Olsson charged in and knocked it past Michigan keeper Hillary Beall into the left corner of the goal.

However, the assistant referee ruled that Olsson was just barely off side and the goal was disallowed. It was a close call but it did look like Olsson might have been about half a body length offside.

In the 15th minute FSU had another extremely promising chance. The Seminoles earned a corner kick.

Nighswonger stepped up to take it and sent a beautiful curling ball into the box with her left foot. Keeper Beall tried to punch it away but the ball hit off of defender Sydney Shepherd’s shoulder and caromed back toward the goal.

Beall dove down to her left and swiped the ball back out, but the question was whether she got to the ball before it crossed over the line.

The referee didn’t award the goal initially. Florida State protested vociferously that the goal was scored.

The rule is that the ball has to cross completely over the line for it to be a goal. It can cross over the line in the air. It doesn’t have to touch anything but it must cross completely over the line.

At the first break in the action, the referee stopped play for VAR (Virtual Assistant Referee). There wasn’t a conclusive look from replay so the referee ruled that it would be a goal kick for Michigan instead of a goal for Florida State.

This was a pivotal point in the game so it is appropriate to discuss it further.

It looked from replay that the ball probably went over the line. However, there wasn’t any angle that showed that the ball conclusively went over the line, so the referee probably made the correct call to disallow the goal even though the result was very unlucky for the Noles.

However, the NCAA must do better here.

There were several angles that showed what happened but there wasn’t a camera placed on the goal line. Therefore, there wasn’t a conclusive look to determine whether the ball crossed the line.

I have said this many times before but I will reiterate; for the life of me I can’t figure out why the NCAA won’t put a camera on the goal line.

If we are going to have VAR we need to have a camera on the goal line. The most important use of VAR is to determine whether a goal has been scored.

This seems to be common sense.

Maybe next year the NCAA will rectify this mistake.

In any case the game continued on scoreless and it was Michigan who generated the next good chance.

In the 19th minute Shepherd sent the ball out of the midfield for Meredith Haakenson who was posting up against Gabby Carle. Haakenson then spotted Raleigh Loughman wide open in the middle of the field. Loughman took a touch and then rifled a right footed shot for goal from about 25 yards out that went just wide left.

In the 54th minute the Wolverines kept the pressure on FSU. Sarah Stratigakis was working down the right flank against Lauren Flynn. Stratigakis laid it back for Sammi Woods who had moved into the box. Woods eventually sent in a great ball for Wolfe who was making a run into the box. Wolfe got a foot on it and flicked the ball cheekily for goal but FSU keeper Cristina Roque was perfectly placed for the save.

In the 62nd minute FSU had another chance. Nighswonger received the ball in midfield and raced toward the UM goal. She sprinted unchallenged to the goal where she tried her luck from about 25 yards out. Nighswonger’s left footed shot whizzed just barely over the crossbar.

In the 66th minute the Wolverines earned another chance. Nicki Hernandez and Stratigakis executed a wonderful give and go to beat the Seminole defense. Hernandez received the ball in the box and after a touch blasted a left footed shot to goal. Roque had come a few steps off her line to cut off the angle and she got her hands up to deflect the hard driven shot over the goal for a corner.

In the 74th minute the Noles enjoyed their best chance of the game. Kirsten Pavlisko switched the field for Emily Madril on the left side. Madril attacked Michigan defender Jayde Riviere. Madril drove into the box going to the endline to set up a cross but Riviere took her down from behind.

The whistle blew immediately and the referee pointed to the spot. The Wolverines protested the call but the referee was unmoved, and Jaelin Howell stepped up to take the penalty kick.

Howell stutter stepped before nailing a right footed shot to the left corner of the goal.

However, Beall guessed correctly and she was there to knock the ball away for the brilliant save. Howell probably telegraphed the shot a bit by crossing over the ball, but that doesn’t take away from the outstanding effort by Beall to make the huge save.

From there neither team was able to generate a dangerous chance in regulation and the game went into overtime.

In the 100th minute the Seminoles earned the game winner.

Robbins received a throw-in. She danced around in the box looking for an opportunity. Robbins then laid it back for Howell who immediately chipped the ball into the six.

Carle alertly (and brilliantly) ran onto the ball and knocked it back across the goal mouth. Beall had gone over to guard against a possible shot from Carle and the goal was left open.

Carle’s ball bounced past Beall and Olsson was there to bang it into the open net to send the Seminoles to another College Cup.

Post Game

Florida State outshot Michigan 10-8. FSU had five shots on goal while Michigan had four.

The Seminoles also won the possession battle 61%-39%.

Yujie Zhao was briefly injured in the first half but she was able to return to the pitch in the second half.

Heather Payne was unavailable for the game as she was called up by the Republic of Ireland for a World Cup qualifying match against Slovakia. Ireland drew against Slovakia 1-1. Payne played the full 90 minutes.

Both teams played well in this game. I was a bit surprised by how content the Wolverines were to allow FSU to dominate possession. Michigan seemed fine to allow the possession and rely on counter attacks for their offense for most of the game.

The shots were fairly even but FSU applied most of the pressure and had most of the dangerous opportunities.

Emily Madril is usually a centerback, but you wouldn’t know it from this game. Madril played most of the game as an attacking midfielder. The Seminoles mostly relied on Kirsten Pavlisko and Lauren Flynn on defense for long stretches of the game as Gabby Carle also went forward for a large portion of the game.

Both goal keepers were great in this game. Hillary Beall had most of the pressure and acquitted herself well for Michigan. Cristina Roque was also stellar in goal for FSU. Roque has been great this entire postseason and if she can continue to play this way it will be very difficult to defeat the Noles going forward.

Florida State was quite unlucky in this game as they were really close to a couple of goals in regulation.

Beata Olsson’s goal was probably offside but it was really close.

The own goal on Jenna Nighswonger’s corner kick was probably across the line but I agree that it wasn’t definitive so the referee made the right judgment.

However, if the Seminoles had lost this game it would have been a bitter pill to swallow in light of those close calls.

Florida State didn’t dominate the game but the Seminoles did seem to slightly outplay the Wolverines, so the result was a fair one.

Now FSU will prepare for another College Cup appearance this time in Santa Clara, CA.

Next Game

Florida State will meet the winner of the Arkansas/Rutgers Elite 8 game. The National Semi-Final will be played in Santa Clara, CA on December 3rd. The kickoff time is to be determined. All College Cup games will be broadcast on ESPN U.