No. 2 Florida State (1-0-2) battled no. 16 Auburn (2-0-1) to a 1-1 draw tonight at the Seminole Soccer Complex in Tallahassee.
In the eighth minute Florida State earned the first good chance of the game. Heather Gilchrist spotted Beata Olsson making a run upfield. Gilchrist sent Olsson a perfect long ball. Olsson managed to catch up to it and battled M.E. Craven for the ball. Olsson was able to take a right footed shot for goal that hit the outside of the post.
In the 24th minute LeiLanni Nesbeth and Maddie Simpson were racing for a 50/50 ball. Simpson body blocked Nesbeth off the ball and was called for the foul. Nesbeth and Jenna Nighswonger stood over the ball for the free kick. Nighswonger took the kick with her patented left foot and lofted a nice ball into the box. Olsson got up and headed it toward goal but it bounced wide.
In the 29th minute FSU eventually broke the scoring ice. Ran Iwai sent a searching ball into the box from distance. Jody Brown tracked it perfectly in the air and side volleyed a wicked shot that hit off the crossbar. Emma Bissell and Hayden Colson raced for the rebound. Bissell eventually came up with it and Colson fouled her in the box. The whistle sounded and FSU was awarded the penalty kick. Heather Payne stepped up to take it and she fired a shot to the right side that went straight into the net. Auburn keeper Maddie Prohaska guessed correctly but she couldn’t stop the blast.
In the 33rd minute Auburn generated a good chance. Anna Haddock collected a missed clearance from FSU. She took a couple of touches to get free and then fired a left footed shot that was wide. However, Marissa Arias was making a run and she just missed getting her foot on the ball to redirect it into goal.
In the 47th minute the Noles had another chance. Brown attacked the Tiger defense on the left flank. She spotted Nighswonger in the middle of the field. Jenna took a touch and then sent a curling ball towards goal from about 19 feet out. The shot beat Prohaska but it hit the right post.
The Seminoles kept the pressure on in the 50th minute. Clara Robbins dribbled the ball out of the midfield. She spotted Nighswonger wide open in the middle of the field. Jenna immediately sent a perfectly weighted ball into the box for Olsson who had beaten the Tiger defense. Olsson ran onto the ball and took a touch to avoid a diving Prohaska. She leapt over Prohaska but Hailey Whitaker came in at the last minute and cleared the ball away right before Olsson could get to it.
The Noles kept asking questions in the 53rd minute. Lauren Flynn sent a dangerous ball into the box. Olsson lunged out with her right foot and knocked a bouncing ball toward goal. Prohaska dove down and blocked the ball over the endline.
In the 55th minute Nighswonger showed great hustle keeping an errant ball from going over the endline. Jenna then curled back and found Robbins right outside the box. Robbins took a touch and then fired a rocket for goal but her blast was right at Prohaska who made the save.
In the 63rd minute Auburn found the equalizer. Sophia Nguyen and Olivia Candelino were battling for the ball on the left side. Candelino went down and Nguyen was called for the foul. Anna Haddock took the free kick. She sent a gorgeous ball into the box. Sydnie Thibodaux soared over everyone and headed the ball into the goal to tie the score at 1-1.
The goal gave the Tigers life and they used that momentum to generate another chance in the 80th minute. Sabrina McNeill battled with Ran Iwai on the left flank. McNeill managed to get free and sent a cross into the box. Cristina Roque came off her line for the ball to knock it away. However, Simpson was able to keep the ball in and she sent a left footed blast toward goal that clanged off the post.
In the 84th minute Nighswonger picked off a pass deep in FSU territory. She immediately raced up the field in transition. She barely got to the midfield before she looked up to spot Brown making a run in the attacking half. Nighswonger slipped a beautiful ball for Brown who had timed her run perfectly to get behind the AU defense. Brown used her speed to run onto the ball and she was 1v1 with the keeper. With the defense racing to catch up Brown took a touch as Prohaska was diving to cut off her angle. Brown took a left footed shot for the right corner of the goal but the ball went inches wide of the post.
In the 88th minute Brown had another near miss. Again Nighswonger saw Brown with a chance to slip past the defense. Brown took a touch to get the ball past the defenders. Again Prohaska came off her line but this time Brown tried to chip her. However, Prohaska was able to deflect the ball inches over the crossbar with her shoulder.
From there neither team was able to score and the game ended in a 1-1 tie.
Florida State led in shots 17-6. The Noles had a 10-3 advantage in shots on goal.
FSU won the possession battle 66% to 34%.
The game was delayed nearly two hours by bad weather.
Again, the Seminoles were able to generate enough opportunities but they just weren’t able to cash in enough.
While I don’t believe that this is the second best team in the nation right now this is still quite a talented team. They are still figuring things out though. The key will be to not get discouraged. If the Noles can keep asking questions of the defense like they are in these first few games they will eventually like the answers that they find.
The Seminoles will travel to Gainesville on Sunday to finish their SEC tour with a date with the Florida Gators. The game will kick off at 5pm and will be broadcast on the SEC Network+.