No. 5 Florida State (13-2-3) defeated No. 2 North Carolina (15-4-1) by a 2-1 score today in Cary, NC to capture yet another ACC Tournament crown.
North Carolina opened the scoring in the 23rd minute. Emily Moxley drove the ball from the midfield into the Seminole defensive third. She eventually laid it off for Isabel Cox on the right flank. Cox crossed the ball into the box where it was slightly deflected by Lauren Flynn. However, Avery Patterson was able to collect it. Patterson took a touch before firing a left footed shot toward goal. It looked like FSU keeper Cristina Roque had it covered but the ball was deflected by a sliding Heather Payne and it rebounded over Roque’s head but just under the crossbar to give the Heels a 1-0 lead. This goal was a bit unlucky for Florida State but the goal was not undeserved as the Tar Heels were applying most of the pressure at that point in the game.
Florida State would respond. In the 31st minute FSU earned a second consecutive corner kick when Onyi Echegini tracked down a loose ball and her cross was deflected out by Emily Murphy. Jenna Nighswonger stepped up to take the corner. Nighswonger sent a curling ball into the box with her left foot. Carolina keeper Emmie Allen couldn’t reach the ball with her outstretched hand and the ball sailed into the goal for the equalizer.
In the 49th minute the Noles took the lead. FSU was attacking in the Tar Heel defensive third. Echegini held the ball up so that Beata Olsson could send it over for Nighswonger who was wide open in the middle of the field. Nighswonger fired a low, hard shot from about 26 yards out. Allen was there for the diving save but she spilled the ball. Jody Brown hustled over and slammed the ball into the back of the net on the rebound to give the Noles a 2-1 lead.
Jody Brown was on clean-up duty! Noles take the lead!!!— FSU Soccer (@FSUSoccer) November 6, 2022
: ESPNU pic.twitter.com/D3fQBn3R5z
In the 55th minute FSU generated another chance. The Noles were possessing dangerously in UNC’s defensive third. Brown collected a loose ball and found Payne making an overlapping run on the right side. Payne sent in a nice cross to Olsson who attempted a cheeky back heel that was saved by Allen.
In the 57th minute the Seminoles earned another chance. Nighswonger corralled a loose ball. She had time to take a touch before sending a dangerous ball into the six. Olsson skied over everyone for the header but it went just wide.
In the 61st minute there was controversy. UNC was possessing in the midfield. Paige Tolentino sent a searching ball for Ally Sentnor in the box. The ball whizzed past Sentnor but she managed to get a boot on it to deflect it. The ball bounced up and clearly hit LeiLanni Nesbeth in the arm. Nesbeth was in the box at the time so Carolina should have been awarded the penalty kick. This was not a judgment call. It was clear. This wasn’t a situation where the referee just decided not to call it. This was a situation where the ref just missed it. FSU was very lucky that the penalty was not called here. FSU is also lucky that VAR isn’t used because they would have definitely awarded North Carolina the penalty kick if VAR was in use for this tournament.
Carolina refused to fold and they had one last chance in the 89th minute. Tori Dellaperuta took a shot from distance that was easily saved by Roque. This was the end of the game so Roque was in no hurry to punt the ball back into play. The referee thought that Roque was time wasting. The whistle sounded and the ref assessed Roque a yellow card. Roque asserted that she wasn’t being given enough room due to Dellaperuta being too close but the ref wasn’t buying it. UNC was granted an indirect free kick from inside the box about 16 yards away. Sentnor touched it back to Patterson who sailed her shot over the goal.
From there the Seminoles were able to protect the lead and walked away with their third straight ACC Championship.
Florida State had 12 shots to seven for North Carolina (Six on goal for FSU to five for UNC).
The possession battle was a draw as both teams had 50%.
FSU had eight corner kicks to zero for Carolina.
Florida State has now won nine of the last 12 ACC titles.
In the first half UNC had most of the dangerous possession but they just couldn’t translate it into shots much less goals. The Noles were simply a different team in the second half. FSU didn’t have much problem at all applying pressure to the Heels. Carolina just wasn’t able to generate many dangerous chances in the second half as the Noles controlled the game starting with the 46th minute.
Jenna Nighswonger really stepped up in this game. Of course she had the outstanding corner kick goal but she was all over the place in the second half sending plenty of dangerous balls into the box.
It wasn’t a perfect game from FSU as there were a few heavy passes (mostly in the first half) and of course the handball that wasn’t called. However, FSU found a way (again) to get this massive result.
Now of course the attention turns to the NCAA tournament. This victory basically wraps up a #1 seed for Florida State and that is huge for FSU’s chances in the NCAA Tournament. The other top seeds will be Alabama, UCLA and North Carolina.
As a result of this ACC Tournament success the Seminoles are in a great position to make another run to the College Cup as they will play all their matches before the Cup at home. Incidentally, the College Cup will be played in Cary this year which is a place that the Noles are very comfortable in the postseason.
The Seminoles will now wait to see who they will be hosting in the NCAA Tournament. The selection show is on Monday Nov. 7 at 4 p.m. ET on NCAA.com. Stay tuned to Tomahawk Nation as we will have much more coverage on the tournament as FSU seeks to defend its national championship.