No. 4 Florida State (6-0-0, 1-0 ACC) defeated no. 8 Clemson (6-1-2, 0-1 ACC) by a 4-2 score today at Clemson, SC.
Clemson got off to a bright start at home. In the sixth minute Tatum Short attacked the FSU defense on the left flank. Short drew three defenders to her before slipping a perfect pass to Caroline Conti who managed to slip behind the Seminole defense. Conti was left wide open in the box. She had time to receive the ball and square up 1v1 against Nole keeper Cristina Roque. Conti then fired the ball low into the right corner and Roque had no chance. Clemson went up 1-0. Florida State was caught ball watching on this play and Clemson made them pay.
CAROLINE. CONTI.— Clemson Women's Soccer (@clemsonwsoccer) September 15, 2023
That's it. That's the tweet. pic.twitter.com/WlSB8Lfxor
Florida State generated a chance in the seventh minute. Jordynn Dudley raced down the field with the ball. She found Jody Brown open on the right wing. Brown took a touch and then fired a left footed shot from about a yard inside the box. Brown’s blast caromed off the crossbar and over the endline for a goal kick.
The Noles earned another chance in the 14th minute. Brown headed a loose ball over to Taylor Huff in the midfield. Huff used a brilliant first touch to get by the initial defender. Huff then used her speed to chase down the ball at the edge of the box before unleashing a right footed strike that went just wide of the left post.
In the 19th minute the Tigers expanded their lead. Dani Davis and Jenna Tobia played give and go on the right flank. Davis got the ball back and crossed it into the box. The ball was deflected out by Sophia Nguyen. However, the ball ricocheted out to Makenna Morris who was trailing the play. Morris one timed a howitzer that got by Roque and ended up in the back of the net. Roque seemed a bit disappointed that she didn’t save the shot especially since she got a hand on it but Morris’s shot was so hard that it would have been almost impossible for anyone to handle. The Tigers were now up 2-0 and they were rolling at home.
Florida State could have folded but (Spoiler Alert) the Seminoles kept battling.
In the 25th minute the Noles kept up the pressure. Huff sent a cross into the box from the right flank in the midfield. Onyi Echegini eventually controlled it and sent it back for Leilanni Nesbeth who was trailing the play. Nesbeth took a couple of touches and then fired from about 22 yards away. The ball was ticketed for the upper right corner but Tiger keeper Halle Mackiewicz came up with a fantastic leaping save to knock the ball away.
FSU broke the scoring ice in the 26th minute. Ran Iwai chipped the ball into the box from the midfield. The ball bounced in the box. Mackiewicz came off her line to grab it but she couldn’t get the ball. Dudley and Hal Hershfelt converged on the ball. It hit off of Hershfelt’s back before hitting the post and bouncing back onto the field. Dudley was in perfect position to knock the ball into the back of the net with her right foot and FSU was finally on the board.
The Noles earned the equalizer in the 44th minute. Lily Farkas chipped the ball forward. Farkas’s ball fell perfectly for Maria Alagoa who was making a run in the box. Alagoa timed her run brilliantly and the offside flag stayed down. Alagoa found herself behind the defense. Mackiewicz came off her line to cut off Alagoa’s angle but Maria slipped her shot right under Mackiewicz’s outstretched foot for the splendid finish. Florida State had battled back for the tie going into intermission.
FSU kept attacking in the 49th minute. Nguyen sent a searching ball into the box. Dudley battled defenders to get her head on the ball eventually controlling it. Dudley found some space before turning and uncorking a right footed smash toward goal. The ball sailed inches over the crossbar.
In the 52nd minute the Seminoles grabbed the lead. The go ahead goal came off of a gift. Mackenzie Duff tried to send a back pass back to the keeper but she misplayed the ball. Beata Olsson was there to intercept the pass. Olsson took a touch before passing the ball past a charging Mackiewicz into the back of the net. FSU took a 3-2 lead.
FSU kept pushing for an insurance goal. In the 65th minute Mimi Van Zanten received a Taylor Huff pass in the box. Van Zanten found Dudley with her back to goal. Dudley turned for goal but was dispossessed. However, the ball went straight to Olsson who one-timed a drive for goal but Mackiewicz was there to snag the ball out of the air for the save.
The Tigers earned a chance in the 74th minute. Clemson stole the ball in midfield. Megan Bornkamp slipped the ball over to Conti in the middle of the field. Conti fired a right footed blast as she was falling down that sailed just over the crossbar.
In the 81st minute the Noles secured the insurance goal. Florida State was attacking in the offensive third. Clemson tried to clear it but Nesbeth controlled the clearance. Nesbeth sent the ball back in and Alagoa one-timed it toward goal. Her shot was blocked by Harper White but the deflection went right to Echegini. The Nigerian international knew what to do with it one-timing a left footed rifle that went past Mackiewicz into the lower left corner to give the Noles a 4-2 margin.
Two minutes later Echegini almost added another. Echegini received the ball on the right flank and sent a right footed blast toward goal that clanged off the post.
From there the Noles managed the game effectively and walked away with an impressive 4-2 win.
Florida State had 17 shots (eight on target) while Clemson had 10 shots (three on target).
Clemson won the possession battle 54% to 46%.
Taylor Huff was really dangerous today even though she didn’t score. Huff caused lots of problems for the Clemson defense with her speed and physicality.
FSU was shaky early especially defensively. I’m sure that the coaches will have a lot to say about the first goal that the Noles conceded because the defense was poor. However, after that the Seminoles focused and it was a different game. Clemson’s second goal was just a situation where you tip your cap because the strike from Makenna Morris was outstanding.
We are getting to the point where we need to ask the question.
Can the Seminoles just flip the switch any time they want to?
It’s not advisable for any team to feel like they can just flip the switch at any time but it kind of looked like FSU did just that in this game. FSU wasn’t playing particularly poorly early other than the defense on the first goal. However, Jordynn Dudley’s goal seemed like the spark that the Noles needed to get them going. This is a really talented team but it still doesn’t feel like they have put a complete game together against tough competition.
Nevertheless, this team proved (once again) that they have a ton of heart. They never feel out of it or lose their belief. That confidence combined with all of the talent has the potential to take this team a long way.
Florida State will travel to Syracuse to face the Orange on Thursday. The game will kickoff at 7pm and will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.