No. 1 Florida State (16-0-1) defeated no. 7 Clemson (15-3-3) by a 2-1 score today at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Seminoles captured their fourth straight ACC Championship and tenth overall title.
Florida State got off to a strong start. In the seventh minute Jordynn Dudley battled a couple of defenders on the left side. She spotted Onyi Echegini unmarked in the middle of the field. Echegini took a couple of touches and then launched a perfectly placed shot from about 25 yards out. Clemson keeper Halle Mackiewicz dove for the save but the ball sailed out of her reach into the back of the net for the first goal. This was just a great effort from Echegini. She showcased her skill with this shot from distance that gave the keeper no chance.
In the 25th minute the Noles generated a dangerous chance. Dudley made a run in the center of the field. Echegini spotted her and sent a long ball for her from the midfield. Dudley raced after it but Mackiewicz came off her line to deflect the ball. Dudley managed to reach the ball first and she tried to chip it over Mackiewicz but she couldn’t get enough on it and the ball was cleared away.
In the 29th minute Clemson found the equalizer. The Tigers earned a corner kick. Dani Davis stepped up to take it. Davis drove the ball to the edge of the six. Mackenzie Duff used her size and leaping ability to rise up and slam a header past the Seminole defense into the back of the net to draw the Tigers even at 1-1.
Mackenzie Duff Insane Headers— Clemson Women's Soccer (@clemsonwsoccer) November 5, 2023
The Seminoles wasted no time applying pressure in the second half. In the 46th minute Clemson made a mistake defensively as Duff couldn’t handle a back pass. Beata Olsson raced after the loose ball. Duff and Olsson got to the ball at the same time and neither one of them could control it as they both hit the ground. Dudley reached the loose ball and darted for goal. Mackiewicz came off her line to block the ball and Dudley went flying. Echegini came up and sent a shot for goal but the ball went straight into Mackiewicz who was still on the ground. The ball rebounded back to Echegini but she couldn’t control it and Caroline Conti was able to hustle back and clear the ball away.
THAT IS YOUR 2023 ACC KEEPER OF THE YEAR— Clemson Women's Soccer (@clemsonwsoccer) November 5, 2023
In the 48th minute the Noles amped up the pressure. Lauren Flynn headed the ball up the field. Jody Brown flicked it on for Echegini in the middle of the field. Echegini eventually controlled it an sent a wicked shot for the left corner of the goal. Mackiewicz got down diving to her right to just barely deflect the ball into the post where it rebounded out of bounds. This was a huge save by Mackiewicz that kept Clemson in the game.
However, the Seminoles were not done. In the 57th minute FSU took the lead. Clemson tried to play the ball out of the back. Olsson was there to intercept a pass from Harper White. Olsson took a couple of touches before sending a perfect ball into the box. Echegini timed her run brilliantly beating Hal Hershfelt to the ball and knocking it past Mackiewicz and into the back of the net for the 2-1 lead.
Undaunted, Clemson kept charging. In the 69th minute Layne St. George threw the ball in to Sami Meredith who was posting up against Heather Gilchrist just outside the box. Meredith was able to turn and bump Gilchrist off for just a second to get some space. Meredith then fired a low shot for the left corner of the goal but Cristina Roque was able to come up big with a sparkling kick save to keep the Seminoles ahead.
In the 74th minute Clemson earned another chance. Emma Wennar came out of nowhere and tracked down a loose ball in the midfield. She knocked it ahead and the race was on. Mimi Van Zanten was marking her and they were running step for step. The ball went about six yards into the box before Van Zanten made a brilliant sliding side tackle to knock the ball away and snuff out the threat. Van Zanten really took a risk here because if she didn’t get that tackle right it very easily could have been a penalty and a red card (for denying a promising goal scoring opportunity) all on one play. However, Van Zanten did get it right and she made a fantastic defensive play.
From there the Seminoles were able to protect the 2-1 lead and earn their fourth straight ACC crown.
Florida State had 11 shots (six on goal). Clemson had eight shots (four on goal).
Florida State has now won 10 ACC Tournament titles and four straight.
Echegini was on another level today. She was super calm and confident on the ball. She was dangerous almost every time she touched it. Between the World Cup and the long college season Echegini has played a lot of soccer in the last few months but she still seems fresh and ready to go. This is her last college season and she seems ready to cap it off with a championship.
Florida State didn’t generate as many opportunities as usual today but the defense really played well. Clemson had the majority of the possession but FSU’s defense stood up. The Noles were good positionally, were sturdy on the one v ones, and played good team defense. Overall, it was an impressive performance and a big reason for the win.
I’m just going to say it straight out. We didn’t see Florida State’s A game today. The Noles weren’t terrible by any means and they deserved the victory. However, we have seen them play better games. But that doesn’t detract from this victory. If anything it makes it even more impressive. Florida State just beat a top 10 team in a big moment without its best game. FSU has just proven that it can still earn a victory against a top opponent without playing its best. That is important because it’s hard for any team to play its best for six straight games.
Florida State will now wait to find out who will be sent to Tallahassee in the NCAA Tournament as the Seminoles have locked up a #1 seed. In fact if the Seminoles aren’t the overall #1 seed there should be an inquisition.
The selection show will take place on Monday, Nov. 6 at 4 p.m. on NCAA.com.