No. 1 Florida State (13-0-1) played no. 9 Duke (12-5-4) to a scoreless tie. The Seminoles advanced to their eleventh College Cup on penalty kicks (5-3).
Duke generated the first good chance of the game. There was a good deal of speculation before the game about what the Blue Devil strategy would be to deal with FSU’s grinding possession tactics. Early on Duke did not play tentative. The Blue Devils came out aggressive and it paid off in the second minute.
Jaelin Howell tried to drive the ball upfield to relieve the pressure that Duke was applying with the high press. Delaney Graham came from behind and tackled the ball away from Howell. Mackenzie Pluck took the ball and fired for goal from just outside of the 18 yard box. The ball went well wide but it seemed that Duke was sending a message that they were going to be aggressive instead of just laying back and trying to absorb pressure.
Early in the game the Blue Devils were playing a high line and were trying to put pressure on the Florida State defenders as they tried to initiate the build-up to get the possession game going. Duke seemed to be having success with this strategy but the Blue Devils didn’t stay with it long. With about 25-30 minutes left in the first half Duke dropped their line and decided to take a much more defensive posture. The game then changed and it looked much more like the game that FSU had in the last round against Penn State.
In the 32nd minute Florida State generated a dangerous opportunity. Lauren Flynn drove the ball upfield and found Gabby Carle on the left wing. Carle pushed it ahead to Kristina Lynch on the left flank. Lynch put a couple of moves on Graham before sending a cross into the six for Jody Brown. Unfortunately for the Noles, Brown couldn’t get her head on it and Duke keeper Ruthie Jones was there for the diving stop.
In the 44th minute the Seminoles had another good chance. Emily Madril sent a gorgeous long ball from the midfield for Brown at the edge of the 18. Brown battled with Graham for the ball shielding her away from it with her back to goal. Graham eventually tried to go through Brown to get to the ball and Brown went down. The whistle sounded and FSU was awarded a free kick from about 20 yards out. Jenna Nighswonger and Yujie Zhao stood over the ball. Zhao took the kick and sent a curling right footed shot straight for goal but it went over the crossbar.
In the 52nd minute FSU generated another chance. Clara Robbins took a throw-in deep in Duke territory. Kirsten Pavlisko received it and sent it back to Robbins on the right flank. Robbins played a nifty give-and-go with Heather Payne. Robbins received it back and darted for the endline. Robbins sent in a cross from the edge of the 18 that somehow got through everyone. Kristina Lynch was there in the middle of the box but her shot was blocked by Sophie Jones.
In the 56th minute Florida State had another chance. Madril released a bit of pressure in the midfield by knocking the ball upfield. The pass missed everyone and Caitlin Cosme came over to clear it. Her clearance was blocked by Payne. The ball went forward and Cosme and Payne battled for possession. Payne eventually won the ball and sent a cross from the edge of the 18 to the middle of the field. Kristen McFarland was charging for the ball but it went behind her. LelLanni Nesbeth ran onto it and one-timed a right footed strike but Jones was placed perfectly and she had no trouble with the save.
In the 60th minute the Blue Devils generated an opportunity. The Seminole center backs were trying to crank up the possession by exchanging passes in midfield. Tess Boade came up to pressure Flynn and she managed to knock the ball way from her. Marykate McGuire pounced on it and delivered a ball ahead to Boade. Madril raced back to challenge Boade and was able to tackle the ball away from Boade and clear it to safety out of bounds.
In the 62nd minute the Noles had another opportunity. Madril intercepted a pass in the midfield. She played give-and-go with McFarland. Madril dribbled the ball eluding defenders and laid it back for Gabby Carle who was behind her. Carle passed it ahead to Nesbeth who was posting up with her back to the goal. Nesbeth received the ball and turned firing an absolute rocket to goal from about 20 yards out that forced Jones into an impressive one handed save knocking it over the crossbar for a corner kick.
On the ensuing corner Nesbeth sent a searching ball into the box. Clara Robbins got her head on it and directed it toward the goal. The header was blocked but Jaelin Howell was there and she collected it and sent a shot toward goal that went over the crossbar.
In the 74th minute the Seminoles earned another chance. Lynch sent a cutting ball into the path of Nighswonger who was making a run at the edge of the box. Nighswonger sent a left footed shot to goal that was deflected by the defender. Jones had to make a diving save off of the deflection and the ball was cleared away by Taylor Mitchell.
In the 88th minute Pavlisko fed Zhao on the right wing. Zhao dribbled the ball toward the center of the field before sending in a left-footed pass for Gianna Mitchell. Jones came off her line before Mitchell could catch up to it and she punched the ball with two fists. However, the ball was blocked back by Mitchell who clattered into Jones and the ball caromed harmlessly over the endline for a goal kick.
From there neither team could generate another quality scoring chance and the game went to the first ten minute overtime. Overtimes in the NCAA Tournament are decided by golden goal which means first goal wins the game.
In the 96th minute the Noles had an opportunity. Madril drove the ball up the field. She found Robbins ahead. Robbins took a touch and then sent a lovely ball for Payne who was streaking down the right wing. Payne caught the ball before it went out and one-timed a right-footed cross into the box. Madril was there to one-time a right footed blast that went high over the crossbar.
In the 97th minute FSU again had a chance to end the game. Payne chased down a loose ball. She played give-and-go with Pavlisko. Payne caught up to Pavlisko’s pass and sent a one-timed cross into the box. The cross was blocked but Payne got it back and laid it off for Robbins who was supporting her from behind. Robbins took a touch and fired a left-footed drive toward goal. Jones was there to knock the ball over the crossbar.
In the 109th minute the Noles had another opportunity. Gabby Carle was driving the ball up the field and she was taken down by Boade. The whistle sounded and FSU was awarded the free kick. Once again both Zhao and Nighswonger stepped up to take it from about 35 yards away. Nighswonger sent a ball into the box that missed everyone. However, Flynn tracked it down and laid if off for Madril behind her. Madril drove the ball into the box. She was taken down in the box by Mia Gyau but there was no whistle. Robbins collected the ball and battling defenders she sent a cross just outside the six. It was blocked into the air by Mitchell. McFarland caught up to it and tried to bicycle it back toward goal. Payne received the bounding ball in the six yard box. She settled it with her chest but before she could shoot the ball was headed away by the defense eventually going over the endline.
From there neither team could score so the game went into penalty kicks.
Florida State’s penalty kick takers were:
- Clara Robbins
- Emily Madril
- Gabby Carle
- Jaelin Howell
- Yujie Zhao
They all scored.
Duke’s penalty kick takers were:
- Taylor Mitchell
- Tess Boade
- Katie Groff
- Maggie Graham
Mitchell was denied by FSU goal keeper Cristina Roque but all of the others scored. Therefore, FSU won the penalty kick round 5-3 and advanced to the eleventh College Cup in program history.
Florida State had 14 shots (8 on goal) while Duke had two shots and neither were on goal. FSU had nine corner kicks while Duke had one.
Survive and Advance. This was not a masterpiece by Florida State. The Noles didn’t generate enough chances and the finishing was poor. However, the Seminoles did what they needed to do in the penalty kick round to advance.
Duke was just trying to hang on and get to the penalty kick round. They tantalized us for the first 25 or so minutes into thinking that they would challenge FSU and play a real game but that was just a mirage. The rest of the game was played with Duke falling into the low block defense and trying to absorb FSU’s pressure while hoping for a good counter attack chance. If that didn’t materialize the Blue Devils seemed content to take the game to penalty kicks.
Cristina Roque saved Florida State’s bacon with the sparkling save to open the penalty kick round but it shouldn’t come to that in these games. FSU has to find a way to finish these opportunities better. Also, the corner kicks were not great today. Florida State must capitalize better on these opportunities.
In any event the Noles got the win (it is officially a tie) and will advance to the College Cup.
One of these days (maybe) we will see a team brave enough to play honestly with FSU for a whole game. That would be fun.
Florida State will play the winner of the Virginia vs (4) TCU game on May 13 at WakeMed Park in Cary, NC.