Santa Clara, Calif. – The number one ranked Seminole Soccer team (21-1-2) won 1-0 against No. 5 Rutgers (19-4-2) in the semifinals of the College Cup in Santa Clara, California.
Florida State will advance to their third National Championship in the last four years. The Seminoles’ semifinal record improved to 5-6-1, leading them to their sixth championship match in program history. Tonight’s match tallied shutout number 13 of the season, with the Seminoles outscoring their opponents 66-13. The Noles’ all-time NCAA Tournament record improved to 71-18-5. Florida State now ranks second in the nation for all-time NCAA Tournament wins behind only North Carolina.
The first half remained scoreless as the Seminoles and the Scarlet Knights could not find the back of the net. The Seminoles’ best chances of the night were stopped short by the Rutgers’ defense. Clara Robbins created a goal-scoring opportunity by beating her defender one on one in the right corner of the field. She crossed the ball to Ran Iwai on the back post. Iwai headed the ball to Beata Olsson in the middle of the six-yard box. The crossbar was not in favor of the Seminoles as Olsson’s header bounced off the top crossbar. LeiLanni Nesbeth tried to clean up the rebound before the Rutgers’ defense dove in, blocking the shot and creating a corner kick for the Noles.
The second half consisted of many close chances from both teams. Cristina Roque came up big with a diving save against Rutgers’ leading scorer early in the half. In the 77th minute, Roque made two more big-time saves. Rutgers broke through the Florida State defensive line and took a shot on goal. Roque deflected the shot and popped right back up to smother the rebound effort from Rutgers.
The Seminoles finally connected on a corner kick to gain the lead in the 71st minute. Jenna Nighswonger took the corner kick from the right corner. Nighswonger sent the ball into a mix of Seminoles and Scarlet Knights. Captain, Jaelin Howell was there to clean up the scramble with a shot into the back of the net. Howell’s lone goal proved to be enough to ensure the Seminoles another trip to the National Championship.
Florida State will play the winner of BYU and Santa Clara. If Santa Clara wins, they will play on Sunday, December 5 at 8:00 PM ET. If BYU wins, the game will be played at the same time on Monday, December 6. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
Photo – Larry Novey
Bret Clein Florida State Athletics contributed to this recap