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No. 1 FSU soccer soars past no. 11 Notre Dame

The Noles use a dominant second half to pull away from the Irish.

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

No. 1 Florida State (11-0-1, 6-0-1 ACC) defeated no. 11 Notre Dame (9-2-3, 4-1-1 ACC) by a 4-1 score tonight at the Seminole Soccer Complex.

Game Recap

Florida State took the early lead. In the eighth minute Taylor Huff served a ball into the box from the right side. Jordynn Dudley eventually controlled it. Dudley put a move on a couple of Irish defenders before laying the ball off for Onyi Echegini at the edge of the six. Echegini one-timed a right footed blast that went through the legs of Clare Logan. Goal keeper Atlee Olofson was actually in fairly good position for the save but her vision was obstructed so she didn’t see Echegini’s shot well enough until it was too late to react and the ball whizzed by her into the back of the net.

The Seminoles kept the pressure on in the 10th minute. Echegini played the ball long out of FSU’s defensive third. Dudley ran onto it outbattling Eva Gaetino for the ball. Dudley took the ball and raced for goal leaving Gaetino in her vapor trail. Dudley put a move on Logan at the edge of the 18 to get space to launch a shot toward goal but Olofson was perfectly placed for the save.

In the 24th minute Gaetino tried to clear the ball. Her clearance went right into the back of Jody Brown. The ball ricocheted straight into the air. Echegini pounced on it and immediately slid a pass through the defense for Dudley to run onto. Dudley one-timed a drive toward goal but Olofson was there for a sparkling diving save.

In the 29th minute the Irish found the equalizer. Leah Klenke drove the ball down the left flank. Working against Sophia Nguyen, Klenke dribbled the ball down the left edge of the 18 before sending a gorgeous cross into the box. Former Nole Kristina Lynch was there for the header at the edge of the six. Lynch made no mistake as she headed the ball down and it bounced into the goal to tie the game at one.

ND generated another chance in the 31st minute. Ellie Ospeck ran down a loose ball on the left side. Ospeck drove the ball into the box before crossing it to the edge of the six. Charlie Codd was there for the left footed shot but Cristina Roque was there to dive to her right for the impressive save.

In the 35th minute the Noles earned another chance. Notre Dame tried to clear the ball but the clearance hit Huff in the back. Beata Olsson and Waniya Hudson both went for the rebound. Olsson won the battle but she was grabbed from behind by Hudson. The whistle sounded and the Noles were given a free kick from about 21 yards out. Hudson was assessed a yellow card for her efforts. Leilanni Nesbeth took the free kick and went straight for goal. Nesbeth’s shot clanged off the crossbar. Nesbeth got the rebound but her second shot was way high and wide.

The Noles retook the lead late in the half. In the 45th minute Leah Pais lifted a beautiful ball over the defense right into the path of Echegini who was making a run into the box. Echegini collected the ball and then fired a missile that was perfectly placed slicing through the defense right into the left corner of the goal to give FSU a 2-1 lead.

In the 58th minute Jordynn Dudley was at it again. The Irish were trying to build up the field. Logan passed the ball over for Gaetino. However, Dudley was there applying pressure on Gaetino. Dudley managed to strip Gaetino of the ball and dashed for goal. Dudley was 1v1 with the keeper but Olofson got down for a great save that was cleared away by Hudson.

In the 69th minute the Seminoles earned some insurance. Kaitlyn Zipay wound up and fired a shot from distance. Olofson dove to her right to defend Zipay’s shot but Brown was there for the deflection and she knocked it into the net for the third goal. There might have been a bit of luck involved in this goal but FSU will take it.

In the 75th minute the Seminoles earned another chance. Zipay delivered a perfect ball over the top to spring Echegini who was making a run. Echegini ran right through Logan’s attempted clearance and found herself one v one with the keeper. Olofson came off her line to provide pressure. Echegini shot the ball right at Olofson and she was able to make the save. This should have been the third goal for Echegini. A player of her quality will bury that opportunity nine times out of ten but this was the tenth time.

However, the Seminoles weren’t done. In the 78th minute the Noles stretched the lead even further. Pais found an open Nesbeth in the midfield. Nesbeth had acres of space in front of her. She drove the ball down the field unmolested before uncorking an absolute rocket from distance. It was a wondergoal that effectively ended the game as the Noles won it 4-1.

Post Game

Florida State had 21 shots (11 on goal) while Notre Dame had seven shots (five on goal).

FSU is now outscoring opponents 27-3 in the second half.

The Seminoles have never lost or been tied at home as the #1 team. The Noles are now 28-0-0 all-time at home as the top ranked team in the nation.

This victory gives Florida State sole possession of first place in the ACC with 19 points. Notre Dame is second with 16 points while UNC is third with 14 points. However, the Tar Heels have played one less game than the Seminoles and Irish.

I’m happy for Kristina Lynch. She earned her degree from FSU in biology and is on track to be an orthopedic surgeon after her soccer career. She battled injury at Florida State but she was a part of a pair of national championship teams in her time as a Seminole. She made the decision to graduate transfer to Notre Dame in part to be closer to her Granger, IN home. It was also a good soccer decision as it is hard to believe that she would have started over Beata Olsson, Jody Brown or Jordynn Dudley. Nevertheless she is flourishing in South Bend as she is now tied for the team lead in goals with six.

As for the Seminoles, this was a statement game. They won’t admit it but when you beat the #11 team in the nation 4-1 using a dominant second half it says something.

This FSU team is really hard to handle. The Seminoles have so much firepower. There are so many dangerous players in the attack. We have discussed that Florida State has a smaller roster with only 19 available field players. Therefore, FSU may not have that much depth from a numbers perspective but they are loaded from a quality perspective. When the Noles go to the bench there isn’t much drop off. This wears teams down and is likely a big factor in FSU’s second half dominance this season.

Florida State is also more athletic than almost every team that they play. It is tough to match up with players like Jordynn Dudley, Onyi Echegini, Taylor Huff, Jody Brown, etc. I have been watching FSU soccer since the days of Patrick Baker and I don’t think that I have seen a more athletic team in Garnet and Gold.

Speaking of athleticism. My goodness Jordynn Dudley. I have to keep reminding myself that she is a true freshman. At times it really seems like she is a woman playing against girls. For a variety of reasons players are no longer guaranteed to stay four years at their original school but if she does this team will be dangerous for years to come.

There are only three games left in the regular season so it is not too early to think about post season positioning. Before the game FSU was ranked sixth in the RPI. After dispatching no. 7 Notre Dame the Noles should rise. FSU will play Pitt (#21 RPI), Duke (#34) and NC State (#104) to end the season. Florida State will likely finish in the top 2 in the ACC which will earn them a bye in the ACC Tournament. Additionally they will likely play quality teams in the ACC Tourney which will further burnish the RPI ranking. Simply put, while we have more soccer to be played, the Noles are well positioned for another #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Next Game

Florida State will welcome #17 Pitt to Tallahassee next Thursday October 19th. The game will kickoff at 7pm and will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.