No. 3 FSU (7-0-1) tied no. 1 UNC (7-0-4) by a 3-3 score this afternoon in Chapel Hill, NC.
North Carolina controlled most of the possession in the early going but it was Florida State that generated the first good opportunity. In the second minute Leilanni Nesbeth found Taylor Huff on the right flank. Huff attacked the goal with Emerson Elgin defending. Huff sliced a dangerous ball through the box. Leah Pais ran onto it but Maycee Bell came over to block her from the ball allowing keeper Emmie Allen to grab it.
In the fifth minute UNC earned a chance. The Heels had a free kick. Emily Moxley stepped up to take it. She sent a beautiful ball into the box. Heather Gilchrist got up to try to head the ball away but it soared over her head. Bell was there to snap off a header but it went straight to a perfectly positioned Cristina Roque who caught the ball for the save.
In the ninth minute the Heels came through with another chance. Avery Patterson collected the ball in midfield. The Seminole defense gave her too much space and she fired a left footed shot that sailed just over the crossbar.
The Tar Heels were enjoying the lion’s share of possession but FSU cracked the scoreboard first with a lethal counter attack. In the 17th minute Nesbeth intercepted a pass in the Seminole defensive third. She raced up the field before spotting Jordynn Dudley making a run on the right flank. Nebeth delivered a gorgeous pass that Dudley was able to corral with her impressive speed. Savy King came over to challenge Dudley but the Seminole striker cut the ball back, took a touch and then slotted the ball past an onrushing Allen to put the Noles up 1-0.
UNC continued to control possession but FSU managed to earn another chance. In the 34th minute Florida State was on the attack when Huff was taken down by Evelyn Shores. Huff took the free kick from about 25 yards out but it went inches over the crossbar.
In the 41st minute Carolina had a golden opportunity. Maddie Dahlien was working on the left flank against Sophia Nguyen. Dahlien drove into the box and Nguyen took her down with a clumsy challenge. The whistle sounded and the Heels were awarded a penalty. Bell stepped up to take it but she sailed her shot over the crossbar.
However, the Tar Heels came back quickly. In the 42nd minute UNC took advantage of a poor FSU clearance. Emily Colton jumped on the ball and immediately sent it out wide for Dahlien on the left side. Dahlien worked against Gilchrist before eventually sending a shot toward goal. Roque managed to deflect the ball with her foot but unfortunately for FSU it went straight to Ally Sentnor who knocked the ball into the open goal to level the game at 1-1.
In the 59th minute the Noles earned another chance. It was again Dudley who was causing all sorts of problems for the UNC defense. The Noles recovered an Allen goal kick. Dudley sent the ball for Huff on the right side. Huff took a couple of touches before getting it back to Dudley with her back to goal just inside the box. Dudley executed a brilliant turn creating space for herself to blast a shot toward goal. Allen came out and made a great save to block the ball. It was eventually knocked away by Tessa Dellarose.
In the 62nd minute the Noles grabbed the lead again. FSU earned a corner kick. Huff stepped up to take it. She sent a gorgeous ball into the box. Dudley leaped up and slammed a header past Allen to give the Seminoles a 2-1 lead. Evelyn Shores tried to get up to head the ball away but she couldn’t reach it and that left Dudley open. I’m not sure exactly what defense Carolina was playing here. It looked like maybe a zone but whatever it was it wasn’t correct. I’m not sure why UNC didn’t have Bell man marking Dudley on that play. I’m sure that the coaches will look at that and correct it in the future but whatever they do it is clear that Dudley simply cannot be left open.
In the 75th minute the Heels earned another chance. Bella Sember got the ball over to Dahlien on the left side. Dahlien drove into the edge of the box and fired a right footed shot that sailed just over the crossbar.
In the 77th minute UNC found the equalizer. Sember sent the ball over to Shores just outside the box. Shores immediately got the ball over to Dahlien who was open just inside the box. Dahlien sent the ball in and it bounced off of Gilchrist’s leg and caromed off the inside of the post into the goal. The official scorer is giving the goal to Dahlien (for now, maybe it will be changed) but this was clearly an own goal. Yes, it was lucky for UNC but that’s what often happens when one team is applying so much pressure. They can get lucky and have the ball bounce into the goal.
In the 86th minute Carolina finally took the lead. Ally Sentnor retrieved a ball down the left flank. Sentnor worked against the defense before delivering a brilliant ball for Kate Faasse who had snuck past Ran Iwai on the right side. Faasse knocked the ball past Roque to put the Heels up 3-2.
That looked for all the world like the game winner but as we should all know by now, FSU never dies. In the 90th minute the Noles found the final equalizer. FSU earned a corner with less than 20 seconds left in the game. Huff raced over to grab the ball for one last gasp. Huff drilled the ball into the six. Allen came out to punch it away but it doesn’t go far enough. Mimi Van Zanten ran up and absolutely smashed a right footed volley into the back of the net to stun the Heels and tie the game at 3-3.
Florida State had 19 shots (7 on goal) while North Carolina had 20 shots (6 on goal).
Carolina had the big edge in corner kicks 10-3.
Neither Jody Brown or Maria Alagoa were available for FSU as they are both on international duty.
This is what can happen when two super heavyweights go at it. This was a game of the year candidate.
Florida State was led by the freshmen. Jordynn Dudley was simply unguardable all day. Whenever she got the ball she made something happen. Dudley is a perfect blend of size, athleticism and technical skill. She is going to be a major problem for the the ACC (and the nation) the next four years. She is absolutely a future USWNT prospect.
For her part, Mimi Van Zanten stepped up in the clutch when her team really needed her. Van Zanten has been unflappable all season despite being a true freshman and she proved it again today with her clinical strike to tie the game at the death.
The FSU midfield didn’t control this game in the midfield from a possession standpoint but both Taylor Huff and Leilanni Nesbeth really played well. Both players created scoring opportunities and were dangerous all game.
Both of these teams have loaded rosters. Carolina did a great job today applying pressure. FSU mostly absorbed it while finding opportunities to counter. This was a mostly even game (as evidenced by the shot totals) and there weren’t a ton of mistakes. While there were a few, mostly the two teams earned what they got in this game.
Much is made of UNC’s huge roster compared to FSU’s smaller one. The Heels have 33 listed players while Florida State has only 22. That depth showed up slightly in this game but it wasn’t a huge factor. UNC used six players off the bench for a total of 150 minutes. FSU used five subs for a total of 89 minutes.
These two teams are the class of the ACC and maybe the nation. Both sides were missing a couple of players due to international duty. It will be great to run this back again with both teams at full strength.
Florida State will welcome Miami to the Seminole Soccer Complex on Friday. The game will kickoff at 7pm and will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.