No. 5 Florida State (12-2-2, 8-2 ACC) defeated Virginia Tech (10-6-2, 4-5-1 ACC) by a 4-1 score tonight to end the regular season at the Seminole Soccer Complex.
Florida State wasted no time in this game. In the first minute Heather Payne drove the ball down the right flank. She tried to spring Jody Brown with a through ball. However, Brown was grabbed as she tried to run onto the ball and the whistle sounded. FSU had a free kick from about 20 yards out. Jenna Nighswonger stepped up to take it. Nighswonger sent a dangerous ball to the edge of the six. Virginia Tech keeper Lauren Hargrove came off her line to grab the ball but she spilled it and the ball bounced right to LeiLanni Nesbeth who knocked it into the open goal to give the Noles a 1-0 lead.
The Seminoles weren’t done. In the fourth minute Beata Olsson charged up the field with the ball. The was taken down from behind by Averi Visage. Nighswonger stepped up to take the free kick. She played the ball to Payne on the right flank. Payne lofted a gorgeous ball into the six. Onyi Echegini was waiting for it and she skied over three defenders to head the ball into the back of the net.
After that Tech changed tactics and applied more pressure on FSU. The tactic worked in that VT was able to disrupt some of FSU’s possession. However, the Hokies still weren’t able to generate many chances to challenge Cristina Roque in goal.
In the 17th minute Nighswonger found Echegini cutting through the midfield. Echegini dribbled through the midfield and spotted Brown slipping past the defense. Echegini slotted a beautiful ball to the open Brown. Jody took a touch and uncorked a right footed blast from about 10 yards out. However Hargrove was there for the sparkling save.
In the 40th minute the Seminoles earned another chance. Maria Alagoa spotted Emma Bissell wide open on the left flank. Bissell put moves on Emmalee McCarter to get free before crossing the ball into the box. The ball ricocheted off of Olsson’s foot. Nighswonger came in to one-time the ball but her shot clanged off the right post. The ball rebounded back to Olsson who sent a shot on goal that sailed inches over the crossbar.
In the 63rd minute the Hokies generated their first big chance of the game. McCarter chased down a loose ball just outside the box. Payne came over to defend her. McCarter managed to get just enough space to get off a curling shot from about 19 yards out but Cristina Roque was there diving to her left to make the save.
In the 75th minute the Noles added another goal. Clara Robbins drove the ball just outside the box. She found Echegini with her back to the goal. Echegini turned and rifled a low left footed shot past Hargrove into the back of the net to give FSU a commanding 3-0 lead.
However, Virginia Tech refused to go away. In the 83rd minute Gabby Johnson received the ball in the middle of the field. She spotted McCarter running up to her right in support. Johnson laid the ball off to her right and McCarter came up and one-timed a missile that gave Roque no chance as it whizzed by her into the back of the net for the Hokies.
Florida State kept applying pressure. In the 90th minute LeiLanni Nesbeth knocked the ball out of the midfield into the Hokie defensive third. Olsson hustled over to reach the loose ball in the box. Hargrove raced off her line to try to snag the ball before Olsson could reach it however she couldn’t beat Olsson to the ball. Olsson touched the ball away and Hargrove clattered into her. The whistle sounded and the referee pointed to the spot. Robbins stepped up to take the penalty kick and she sent the ball into the upper 90 for the fourth Seminole goal of the night.
From there the Seminoles were able to end the game and walk away with the 4-1 regular season ending victory.
Florida State had the edge in shots 14-10 (7-4 on goal).
The Seminoles won the possession battle 59%-41%.
Jenna Nighswonger, Heather Payne and Clara Robbins were honored on senior night.
Florida State is absolutely merciless when playing non-elite teams. Against unranked opponents this year the Noles are 8-0 outscoring those opponents by a 34-3 margin.
FSU obviously wasted no time getting the first two goals and that completely changed the game. We only had a few minutes to judge before the scoring outburst but it looked like the Hokies were going to sit back a bit and hope to catch the Noles on the counter. However, that strategy went out the window when the first two goals were scored. The Hokies amped up the pressure and it was Florida State who tried to counter.
Onyi Echegini had the brace tonight and she leads the team with nine goals. Her impact has been massive all season and it is hard to imagine where the team would be right now without her.
Overall the team seems to be building momentum going into the postseason. I will have more on the team as we head toward the ACC Tournament but Florida State has accomplished its main goals for the regular season. The Noles have avoided injuries and they have also managed to set themselves up well for a playoff run by earning the first round bye in the ACC Tournament.
Now we will see if the Seminoles can take the next step by using the ACC Tournament to get a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The postseason begins for the Seminoles next Thursday.
The Seminoles will head to Cary, NC for the semi-finals of the ACC Tournament on November 3rd.