CHARLESTON, S.C. – For the fourth consecutive season, the Seminoles will play in the ACC Championship Game after No. 13 Florida State (13-3-3) defeated No. 9 Clemson (13-3-3) by a score of 1-0 on Friday, earning a spot in Sunday’s 12 p.m. final against No. 10 North Carolina. A goal by Megan Connolly in the fourth minute gave the Seminoles a quick lead that proved to be the final score.
It is the 13th shutout of the season for Florida State and the seventh time that FSU has earned a 1-0 victory this season.
The Noles have won each of the last three ACC Tournament Championships and own four overall in program history. FSU is now 7-1-1 in its last nine ACC semifinal matches, dating back to 2006.
“I thought that, overall, our kids competed very favorably,” said FSU head coach Mark Krikorian. “Clemson is a very good team, have a lot of good players and you certainly have to be prepared for the air game. I thought that our back line did a pretty good job of staying strong and competing for those first balls and then with the second balls, we did a reasonably good job of picking those up as well.”
The Seminoles got things started right out of the gate, building possession and earning a corner in the first four minutes. Natalia Kuikka’s service eventually got out to Kayice Tillman on the left side for a cross into the penalty box. Malia Berkely headed the ball toward the back post where Connolly headed it into the net for her sixth goal of the season.
Clemson worked for a pair of corners in the eighth and 13th minutes, but were not able to get any shots on goal.
FSU continued to control possession as the half continued and Deyna Castellanos tried to match her U-17 Women’s World Cup heroics in the 21st minute, seeing an opportunity for a shot from near the midfield line, but it was saved by Clemson’s Kailen Sheridan.
The Tigers had a quality scoring chance in the 35th minute, working the ball down the left side before sending in a cross to Paige Reckert near the six-yard box. Her shot went high over the crossbar to keep the match at a 1-0 FSU advantage.
Florida State goalkeeper Cassie Miller made an outstanding save in the 42nd minute, diving to stop a deflected header by Clemson’s Jenna Weston near the penalty spot.
The Seminole defense stopped Clemson’s final push of the half as FSU captain Kirsten Crowley headed away a dangerous cross from Shannon Horgan with 30 seconds left on the clock.
Both teams ended up with seven shots in the first half, while FSU had three on goal to Clemson’s one.
In the second half, Clemson showed why they were the co-champions of the league in the regular season and battled until the final whistle. Other than a shot by Connolly in the 54th minute, the Tigers worked to send in long balls had the better of possession in the opening 25 minutes of the second half, earning three corners over that span, but only registering one shot on a header by Reckert that was saved by Miller.
One of FSU’s best chances in the second half came in the 68th minute, as a foul to Olivia Bergau set up a free kick from 30 yards for Kuikka. The sophomore drove the ball into the six yard box, but it was caught by CU’s Sheridan.
The Seminoles did not allow Clemson many quality chances over the final 15 minutes of the game and held off the Tigers to secure the victory and reach their 10th ACC Championship Game. Clemson outshot FSU, 12-11, but the Noles held a 4-3 advantage in shots on goal for the game.
Sunday’s final against North Carolina will begin at 12:00 p.m. and will be broadcast live on ESPNU, with Glenn Davis and Cat Whitehill on the call. Live stats will be available on theacc.com.
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