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No. 1 FSU soccer advances to the ACC Tournament Final over no. 11 Pitt

Another second half surge powers the Noles into the Final

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

No. 1 Florida State (15-0-1) defeated no. 11 Pitt (14-5-1) by a 2-0 score tonight at the WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC.

Game Recap

The Seminoles generated their first chance in the 19th minute. Lauren Flynn charged into the midfield and found Onyi Echegini at the edge of the attacking third. Echegini turned and then fired a right footed strike from distance that clanged off the crossbar.

In the 24th minute Florida State earned another chance. Mimi Van Zanten intercepted a pass in the midfield. She slipped a perfect ball through the defense for Echegini who was making a run in the attacking third. Echegini took the ball just inside the box before unleashing a shot toward goal. Pitt keeper Ellie Breech got her hand up to deflect the ball way for the impressive save.

The Noles kept up the pressure in the 32nd minute. Van Zanten found Taylor Huff making a run down the left flank. Huff played a gorgeous ball right into the path of Jordynn Dudley who was slicing into the box. Dudley took a touch as Breech came off her line to cut off the angle. Dudley knocked the ball toward goal but her shot went just wide of the post. Dudley looked to the Heavens after the shot because she knew that she had let a golden opportunity slip away.

Pitt came out on the front foot in the second half. In the 49th minute Sarah Schupansky spotted Landy Mertz on the right side. Mertz took a couple of touches before firing a dangerous left footed cross into the six. The ball bounced in the six right in front of goal. Amanda West tried to pounce on it but the ball scooted past her before she could get a foot on it.

In the 60th minute the Panthers generated another opportunity. Deborah Abiodun was taken down by Jody Brown right outside FSU’s box. The whistle sounded and the Panthers had a dangerous free kick. Ellie Coffield stepped up to take it. She unleashed a low hard drive for goal that slammed off the left post.

In the 70th minute FSU broke the scoring ice. Leilanni Nesbeth sent a beautiful ball over the top of the defense for Brown who was streaking down the right flank. Brown chipped a wicked cross into the box. Dudley used her size to get over Coffield and she slammed a header into the back of the net to give the Seminoles the 1-0 lead.

In the 75th minute the Seminoles widened the lead. FSU earned a corner kick. Huff stepped up to take it. Huff sent a lethal ball into the six. Dudley and Beata Olsson jumped up for the header but it was Olsson who was able to redirect the ball into the goal for the 2-0 margin of victory.

Post Game

Florida State had 19 shots (seven on goal) while Pitt had eight shots (three on goal).

This is FSU’s fourth straight ACC Tournament final. The Seminoles have won the title in the previous three years (2020, 2021 and 2022).

This game played out in a bit of an unexpected manner. Sure, FSU won (expected) and the Noles scored a pair of goals in the second half (expected). However, Florida State dominated in the first half and wasn’t clinical enough to cash in on any of the chances. Pitt came back in the second half and was able to use their aggressiveness to create chances. In fact it could be argued that FSU’s first goal was against the run of play. It was a bit surprising to see Pitt get so much traction in the second half.

As usual Pitt coach Randy Waldrum came out with a good game plan. The Panthers varied their approach. A few times they used the high press but mostly they stayed at 34 depth or they sat back deep.

Nevertheless, Florida State was able to generate good chances. In the first half the Noles weren’t as clinical as they have been for most of the season but the game is 90 minutes and FSU was better able to take advantage of the second half chances.

Jordynn Dudley was able to play for the first time since leaving the field with an injury in the Duke game. Despite missing a golden opportunity in the first half Dudley made her presence known right from the beginning and showed why she was the only freshman named to the All-ACC first team.

Onyi Echegini, Taylor Huff, Leilanni Nesbeth; I could go on but there were several players that were impactful in this game for Florida State. We have stated all year that it is extremely difficult to keep FSU down for an entire game with the talent that the Noles have all over the pitch. Eventually the Seminoles usually find a way to break through and that happened tonight.

Next Game

Florida State will meet Clemson in the ACC Tournament Final. The Tigers advanced to the Final with a 3-2 victory over Notre Dame. The game will kickoff on Sunday at noon and will be broadcast on ESPNU.