Sept. 21, 2006
Chapel Hill, NC – The top-ranked FSU soccer team came into its showdown with No. 4 North Carolina having not allowed a second half goal all season. Unfortunately the first one the Seminoles allowed was the costliest of the season. After falling behind the Tar Heels (9-1, 1-0) 1-0 just 22:22 into the game, FSU’s India Trotter evened the match in the 62nd minute only to watch Heather O’Reilly clinch the game with her second goal coming with just 6:54 remaining in the match. The 2-1 defeat ended the Seminoles (6-1, 0-1) second-best start in school history as they lost for the first time this season.
“I don’t think we dealt with their pressure very well tonight,” said FSU Head Coach Mark Krikorian. “They were very organized, very disciplined in their defending and we weren’t sharp enough. Our movements when we gained the ball weren’t sharp enough. We paid the price for it.
“If you are going to come in here and try to play the ball around the back and thru the midfield and your movement isn’t crisp and your passes aren’t sharp, you will pay the price for it. I thought we did. We played ourselves into some very difficult situations. In my estimation it is a credit to (UNC). They forced us to make mistakes and then took advantage of those mistakes. It was a learning experience for us.”
While the Tar Heels out shot FSU 17-7 both teams combined to put just six shots on frame and Carolina scored on half of their four shots on goal. The first was an unstoppable shot bent to the backpost and off the crossbar by O’Reilly. The second was more bizarre as the entire Seminole backline and goalkeeper Ali Mims seemed to stop as O’Reilly hit a spinning ball that looked like it was going wide but spun backwards and into the net past a stunned Ali Mims.
“(O’Reilly) faced up at the goal and looked at me,” said Mims. “I was off my line a little bit more trying to cutoff the angle. If they are going to beat me, I wanted them to do it on the chip. She picked a corner and placed it. She saw it the whole way. I was frozen. I was pretty disappointed in my effort in that. I can’t go back on it now.
“It is easy to forget about the mistakes, dropped balls and balls I should have gotten when you win the game. They are magnified when you lose. Credit to Carolina.”
O’Reilly wasn’t the only one to take advantage of an odd play in the back. FSU’s game-tying goal also came on a play nobody in the stadium expected when Anna Rodenbough misplayed a long ball and India Trotter was right there to bury the mistake.
“I don’t know what happened,” said Trotter when recounting the goal. “Our center back played a great ball in the air behind the backline. The goalkeeper just got kind of tripped up and I was there luckily to just finish it off.”
Despite being even with North Carolina with under seven minutes remaining, the Tar Heels once again found a way to continue their dominance in the series. It was the 18th win for the Heels in 20 meetings between the teams as UNC struck the first blow in the race for the ACC title.
“I have said all along that I don’t think we have developed a very good rhythm in our play in any of our games yet,” said Krikorian. “You factor that in with the Carolina factor and the intensity and pace they are going to play with and it seems natural to me that if we are not sharp enough we are going to make mistakes and pay the price for those mistakes.
“We know we have to get better. We also know we have a big upside. We are not pushing the panic button. We know we have a bunch of ACC games left then we will play the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. In my estimation we have a long way to go but we have a lot of pieces. When we get those pieces on the same page, we will have an opportunity to be successful.”
UNC and Florida State combined for just one shot in the first ten minutes and that one chance was put wide of the goal by the Tar Heels. FSU did generate one chance and that came on a service into the box from the far left wing. Iraia Iturregi was making a run but Rodenbough was there to collect the service.
The Tar Heels continued to test their luck from distance. In the 15th minute it was Ali Hawkins who volleyed a hard shot from 25 yards out that sailed wide of the net at the near post.
In the 19th minute Trotter, who was able to win long balls out of the back with her head most of the game, won another one. This time she flicked the ball toward the Carolina goal where Mami Yamaguchi ran onto the ball. The sophomore got past her defender with three runners in the box. As Yamaguchi started to turn toward the center of the pitch Jessica Maxwell chopped the Seminole down from behind. Maxwell received the yellow card and set FSU up with a set piece on the far wing outside the box. Selin Kuralay drove a shot to the backpost but it bent wide.
In the 22nd minute a long Kelly Rowland throw-in produced another FSU chance. This time the header didn’t have much behind it but it did almost pop over the top of Rodenbough who trapped the ball against the crossbar and made the save.
Less than two minutes later the Heels broke on top. The Seminole defense gave O’Reilly some space about 25 yards from goal. The senior took a look and fired a high arching shot to the backpost over the top of Mims and off the bottom of the crossbar for the early 1-0 lead. It was the 55th career goal for O’Reilly.
In the 30th minute the Seminoles continued to test UNC on set pieces. This time it was a free kick from just inside midfield by Sarah Wagenfuhr. The sophomore sent a deep service into the box about 10 yards from goal. Rodenbough came out but couldn’t clear the ball. Kuralay took a stab at the loose ball with an off-balance shot that went just wide at the near post.
In the 34th minute Iturregi played a great ball in to Trotter. A bouncing service came to the top of the 18. The Spanish national somehow back-heeled the pass out of the air and got Trotter in alone on the right side. The angle was just too sharp though as Trotter’s shot went over the bar as she tried to bend it in at the backpost.
Carolina came out and had the best opportunity early on in the second half. Sterling Smith’s service from the right wing to the back post was lofted and Mims seemed to lose it as it came down at the far post. She and a defender collided and the ball bounced just wide of the goal mouth.
A Carolina mistake allowed FSU to even the match. A long ball played over the top to Trotter ran long and Rodenbough came out to clear the pass with her feet. The keeper missed the ball allowing Trotter a free shot at an open net that the senior buried. It was the first goal this season allowed by UNC in the second half.
In the 84th minute, after a dangerous UNC opportunity, the Seminoles started a dangerous counter attack. Florida State worked the ball down the left wing and found Rowland at the top off the 18. The senior looked up and fired but her shot was blocked.
Moments later the Heels went back in front for good on as odd of a goal as you’ll see. Carolina pushed the ball down the center of the pitch to O’Reilly. As the senior got to the top of the 18 she looked to miss-hit her shot. The Seminoles all watched as the shot took an odd backspin and spun back past Mims and into the Seminole net.
“We tried to come in and impose our style on them,” said Trotter of FSU’s strategy. “It didn’t happen because they played amazing. It was a hard fought game and two great finishes by Heather O’Reilly. We wanted to knock the ball around but by the time we started to do that it was too late.”
Florida State continues ACC play this Sunday afternoon at 12:00 p.m. ET. The Seminoles will face NC State (6-1-2, 1-0-0) who defeated Miami in its ACC opener Friday. Game Tracker will be available for the game at Seminoles.com.