No. 1 Florida State (13-0-2) defeated Virginia (14-4-3) in a penalty kick shootout 3-0 today at WakeMed Park in Cary, NC. The two teams finished regulation plus two overtime periods scoreless.
Virginia started this game well. The Cavaliers did a good job pressuring Florida State keeping it in the FSU third of the field.
UVA generated the first dangerous chance of the game. Lia Godfrey received the ball in the midfield with acres of space in front of her. Godfrey drove the ball through the midfield and eventually found Rebecca Jarrett streaking down the left side. Jarrett received the ball and took a couple of touches to get a better angle before firing a howitzer for goal from about 12 yards out. Jarrett’s shot actually went between Kirsten Pavlisko’s legs before striking under the crossbar and going directly down in front of goal. Lauren Flynn beat Diana Ordonez to the rebound. Flynn tried to clear it but her clearance was kept in by Alexa Spaanstra. Spaanstra tried to square the ball for another shot but her pass was intercepted by LeiLanni Nesbeth and cleared away. There is no goal line camera in the NCAA Tournament but from replays it looked like the ball didn’t cross the goal line. Remember, for a goal to count the entire ball must cross the entire goal line. It didn’t look like that happened here but it was close.
FSU’s first good chance came in the 19th minute. Emily Madril drove the ball through the midfield. She laid if off for Clara Robbins in the middle of the field. Robbins received the ball and took a turn before finding Kristina Lynch on the left side. Lynch drove the ball into the box and fired a right footed shot that went wide left.
Virginia had another chance in the 26th minute. Jarrett served a searching ball into the box. Flynn headed it away but the ball was chased down by Spaanstra at the edge of the box. Spaanstra played it back for Emma Dawson who touched it over to Diana Ordonez who was lurking in the box. Ordonez back heeled it right into the path of Talia Staude who fired a blast from about 12 yards out. However, her shot went right into Madril’s elbow and was cleared away. However, Lizzy Sieracki kept it in and delivered a beautiful ball to Staude’s head. Staude snapped off a great header that was ticketed for the upper right corner of the goal but FSU keeper Cristina Roque was there to snag it out of the air.
In the 42nd minute the Hoos threatened again. Virginia earned a free kick. The ball was served into the box but it was knocked away by Madril. Godfrey retrieved it and served it back in for Ordonez. Flynn and Ordonez battled for the ball. Eventually Gianna Mitchell came over to double team Ordonez. Ordonez went down just outside the box and the whistle sounded for a foul. Lia Godfrey and Taryn Torres stood over the ball. Eventually Godfrey took a blast toward goal but Roque was there to catch it without a rebound.
In the 46th minute UVA generated another chance. Flynn was trying to take the ball out of the back but her pass was intercepted by Godfrey in the midfield. Godfrey drove the ball against a defending Emily Madril before sending a well placed low drive toward goal. Roque dove to her right and came up with a big save to keep her clean sheet.
In the 58th minute the Seminoles earned a corner kick. UVA cleared it away but Heather Payne kept the ball in the zone. Payne laid it off for Jenna Nighswonger on the right side. Jenna crossed it into the box but it was knocked away. FSU kept it in again. Clara Robbins eluded a pair of defenders before Kristen McFarland got it. McFarland took a touch in traffic before lifting a left-footed drive toward goal. However, the ball sailed up over the goal.
In the 71st minute the Noles generated another chance. Jaelin Howell spotted Gabby Carle who was making a run out of the back up the left side. Carle found Yujie Zhao on the left flank. Zhao put a move on Laney Rouse eventually working her way into the box before sending a right-footed shot toward goal. UVA keeper Laurel Ivory was there to make the clutch save.
From there the two teams battled it out but there was no scoring so the game went into overtime.
There were no great chances for either team in the first overtime but UVA threatened in the second overtime. In the 102nd minute Godfrey drove the ball to the edge of the box. She found Jarrett on the left flank. Nole defenders raised their hands for an offside call but the assistant referee disagreed and the flag stayed down. Jarrett served a gorgeous ball into the box. Ordonez was waiting for it and she snapped a dangerous header down at the edge of the six. The ball bounced before Roque got down to snatch it out of the air for the save.
That was the last good chance for either team and the game went to penalty kicks.
Virginia went first and their penalty takers were:
- Alexa Spaanstra
- Diana Ordonez
- Taryn Torres
FSU countered with:
- Clara Robbins
- Emily Madril
- Gabby Carle
Spaanstra stepped up and skied her shot over the crossbar. Robbins scored with a clinical strike in the lower left corner of the goal. Even though UVA keeper Ivory guessed right the shot was too good for her to save.
Ordonez was next for UVA. She sent her shot to the left but FSU keeper Roque anticipated it brilliantly and was already moving before the ball was struck. Roque dived to her right for the sparkling save. Madril stepped up next for the Seminoles. She stutter-stepped before striking the ball and sent it left while Ivory went opposite guessing wrong and the Noles had a 2-0 lead.
Torres stepped to the spot for the Hoos. She sent a shot to the right and Roque guessed correctly and saved the kick. Carle came up for FSU and she delivered a strike to the left side that fooled Ivory and sent Florida State into the NCAA Championship final game.
Florida State had 10 shots (2 on goal). Virginia countered with nine shots (5 on goal).
FSU had eight corner kicks to three for UVA.
The Seminoles also won the possession battle (barely) 53% to 47%.
I didn’t recognize Florida State in the first half. Virginia was on the front foot from the beginning and didn’t let up for the rest of the half. The Seminoles weren’t on target with enough of their passes. That kept them from really cranking up their possession tactics.
Rebecca Jarrett was also giving FSU fits on the left flank in the first half.
Then at halftime FSU coach Mark Krikorian make some adjustments and FSU came out much stronger in the second half. One major adjustment was that FSU gave Kirsten Pavlisko help with Jarrett. In the second half Jarrett was double teamed and walled off from goal by Pavlisko and Emily Madril. This tactic was effective in slowing down the speedy Jarrett in the second half.
Virginia deserves a lot of credit. They didn’t play nearly as defensively as I thought they would and they controlled the game in the first half. The Noles showed how good they can be defensively but they had to do so because the Hoos were pressuring them. UVA coach Steve Swanson remarked that sometimes the best defense can be a good offense and that was the case in the first half for UVA as FSU was only able to get off one shot in the first half.
The Seminoles also got a spark when super subs Jenna Nighswonger and Yujie Zhao entered the game. It’s a nice luxury to have when you can bring a 3rd team All-American (Zhao) off your bench.
This was the second game in a row that the Noles had to win by penalty kick shootout. Overall, FSU has won their last six postseason shootouts. They showed why today as each of the kick takers was calm and composed while burying their shots.
However, the MVP of the shootout was not the shot takers it was the shot saver as Cristina Roque showed her quality once again for Florida State. Roque saved two of UVA’s three shots propelling the Noles into the final game. For those that aren’t soccer experts, penalty kicks are scored about 70% of the time on average. If a keeper can save one of the five shots in a penalty kick shootout that is considered really good. For Roque to save two of three is unbelievable. And she is a freshman.
Florida State will face the winner of the North Carolina vs Santa Clara game in the NCAA Tournament Final on Monday at 5:30pm. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.