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No. 1 FSU soccer takes down No. 4 Pitt to advance to the Elite Eight

Death. Taxes. Elite Eight.

Syndication: Tallahassee Democrat Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat / USA TODAY NETWORK

Top-seeded Florida State (16-2-3) defeated fourth-seeded Pittsburgh (14-5-3) by a 3-0 score tonight at the Seminole Soccer Complex in Tallahassee, FL.

Game Recap

The Seminoles wasted no time in cracking the scoreboard. In the second minute Onyi Echegini sent a perfect through ball from deep in the midfield for Jody Brown who was streaking down the field. Brown got behind the Pitt backline who had moved forward in the attack. Echegini’s ball hit Brown perfectly in stride and the junior from Jamaica was one v one with Pitt keeper Ellie Breech. Brown took a couple of touches and then tried to put a move on Breech but the keeper took Brown down in the box. However, no penalty was given probably because Beata Olsson was trailing the play and had an easy tap into the open net to give the Seminoles a 1-0 lead.

FSU was off to a dream start but Pitt would not fold. The Panthers actually built momentum in the last 20 minutes of the first half. In the 20th minute Pitt forward Samiah Phiri almost tied the game with a header that went just high over the goal.

The Noles went into halftime leading 1-0 but Pitt looked like a side that had belief that they could find the equalizer.

However, the Noles took the game by the scruff of the neck in the 47th minute. Florida State was pressuring in the Pittsburgh defensive third. Clara Robbins crossed the ball into the box. Sarah Schupansky tried to clear it but her clearance went straight to LeiLanni Nesbeth who was lurking about 10 yards outside the box. Nesbeth took a touch and then fired an absolute rocket from about 25 yards out that skidded past a diving Breech and into the lower right corner of the goal to give the Noles a 2-0 lead.

Again, Pitt kept playing hard. The Panthers kept applying pressure and didn’t allow FSU to keep too much possession.

However, the Noles would add an insurance goal. In the 57th minute, Echegini once again found Brown sneaking behind the Pitt defense. In a play that was reminiscent of the first goal Echegini sent a gorgeous ball over the defense right onto the foot of Brown. Jody had timed her run perfectly and the flag stayed down. Once again Brown had the ball behind the Pitt defense. This time Brown chose to cut it back and she slipped past Athalie Palomo to fire a left footed shot for goal that had too much pace for Breech to handle. The ball ended up in the lower left corner of the goal and the Noles had an insurmountable 3-0 lead.

From there the Seminoles were able to fend off the Panther attacks and leave the field with a hard fought 3-0 victory.

Post Game

Florida State outshot Pittsburgh 18-7 (10-2 on goal).

The Seminoles won the possession battle 55%-45%.

Pitt played the game without starting goal keeper Caitlyn Lazzarini who sustained a knee injury in the Panther win over Georgetown on Friday.

Pitt is a very well coached quality side. They could easily ascend to the top tier of the ACC next year. However, right now Florida State has too much talent and is playing too well. This was a team victory. There were times where Pitt grabbed the momentum in this game. In fact, the Noles used the counter-attack for much of their offense tonight. However, Pitt couldn’t deal with FSU’s speed (in particular Jody Brown) and that was the key to the game.

Florida State (once again) seems to be peaking at just the right time. Throughout the Mark Krikorian era the Seminoles always seemed to save their best soccer for the postseason and while it is still early, the Brian Pensky Seminoles seem to be carrying on that tradition.

Securing the win and the clean sheet against a good team like Pitt (Massey rates them #15 in the nation) is a very good result for the Noles. However, it wasn’t a perfect performance. In particular, FSU needs to avoid conceding fouls in dangerous areas. There were a couple of times that the Noles were called for fouls just outside the box. That will need to get cleaned up as the Seminoles advance in this tournament.

However, the important thing at this time of year is to survive and advance. The Seminoles did just that in fine fashion and have set themselves up well for another trip to the College Cup if they can sustain this level of play.

Next Game

Florida State will host third seeded Arkansas on Saturday at the Seminole Soccer Complex in the Elite Eight. The kickoff time is to be determined.