No. 8 Florida State (3-0-2) defeated Florida Gulf Coast (2-4) by a 5-0 score this evening at the Seminole Soccer Complex.
Both teams were feeling each other out early. However the Seminoles didn’t cash in on their goal scoring opportunities until the second half.
In the 48th minute, Sophia Nguyen dispossessed Erika Zschuppe knocking the ball away from her. Jody Brown immediately jumped on the ball and dashed upfield. Brown took it into the box before laying the ball off for Clara Robbins who was trailing in support. Robbins one-timed a left footed strike as she was falling down that slid past FGCU keeper Katie Sullivan and into the back of the net to give Florida State the 1-0 lead.
In the 56th minute the Noles cashed in on another opportunity. Jenna Nighswonger attacked the Eagle defense on the right flank. Nighswonger managed to get some separation from defender Nellie Nygren before blasting a left footed shot toward goal. Sullivan managed to knock the ball away on the bounce but Olivia Garcia was there to take advantage of the spill. Garcia knocked home the rebound to give the Noles a 2-0 lead.
FSU kept up the pressure in the 59th minute. LeiLanni Nesbeth spotted Nguyen making an overlapping run on the right flank. Nesbeth chipped a beautiful ball for Nguyen who immediately went to work on defender Leah Scarpelli. Nguyen sent a dangerous cross into the box. Garcia received it and passed it back for Robbins who took a touch and then nailed a right footed shot for the upper 90 that snuck just under the crossbar to give the Noles a 3-0 lead.
In the 82nd minute FSU kept up the onslaught. Emma Bissell drove the ball down the field. Lilly Lakich tried to knock Bissell off the ball with a shoulder charge but it didn’t work as Bissell kept barreling down the field. Bissell took a couple more touches before trying her luck from distance. Bissell sent in a perfectly placed shot from about 24 yards away that curved away from Sullivan before hitting the inside of the right post and bouncing into the goal.
However, the Noles still weren’t done. In the 90th minute Maria Alagoa spotted Olivia Lebdaoui sneaking behind the Eagle backline. Alagoa delivered a gorgeous ball that landed right in Lebdaoui’s path. Lebdaoui took a touch to get by Lakich before firing a left footed blast by the keeper. The ball was struck so well that Sullivan barely moved for it. Lebdaoui’s rocket gave FSU the final 5-0 margin of victory.
Florida State outshot Florida Gulf Coast 28-6 (12-2 on goal).
The Seminoles also won the possession battle 65%-35%.
Heather Payne is still away on national team duty with Ireland. Onyi Echegini has returned from her national team stint with Nigeria but as she just played two days ago she was held out of this game.
In the first half FSU was running offense and enjoying possession but it seemed a bit slow. I’m not sure if it was rust from not playing for 10 days but the Noles weren’t as sharp as usual. OF course the second half happened and Florida State was as sharp as a Ginsu knife.
With Payne not available there is quite a bit of youth and inexperience on FSU’s backline. The Noles started two true freshmen (Heather Gilchrist and Sophia Nguyen) along with a player who had never played defense at the college level before this year (Ran Iwai). However, the Noles still played their possession game relying on the youthful defenders to knock the ball around while searching for opportunities to link up with attackers down the field. This season will still probably come down to how well the backline can hold up against stiffer ACC competition but the early returns are encouraging.
The Seminoles did what they needed to do against an outmatched opponent. Even though they started slow the Noles got it in gear in time to put up a 5 spot and sail to the comfortable win. FSU is still trying to get settled with all of the new faces but there is no doubt that there remains quite a bit of talent on the team. The ACC looks as tough as ever with five teams currently ranked in the top 12 nationally but Florida State will still be a tough out for any of them.
The Seminoles travel to Houston to face the Rice Owls on Sunday. The game will kickoff at 2pm and will be broadcast on the CUSAtv Network.