CARY, N.C. – The top-seeded Seminole Soccer team (11-0) is ACC Champions for the seventh time in program history with a 3-2 win over No. 1 North Carolina (11-1).
Florida State would have five on the All-Tournament team – Clara Robbins, Jaelin Howell, Jenna Nighswonger, Malia Berkey and Cristina Roque. Clara Robbins was named tournament MVP as she finished with three goals and two assists.
Florida State is now 5-3-1 against North Carolina in the ACC Tournament under head coach Mark Krikorian. FSU is 5-1-1 against the Tar Heels in the tournament since 2011.
“There is no one out there that has more respect for what Anson (Dorrance), his staff and his school have done for the growth of women’s soccer than I have,” said Krikorian. “The opportunity to come in here, in Carolina and play against UNC again in a final is great for us. We were all treated to a very hard-working, competitive game between two good teams. Fortunately, we were able to come out and establish a couple of goals early in the game. Then came out in the second half and scored another goal. For me, I am proud of our team. I thought they played very well and brought the competitive spirit that is necessary to win championships. We feel great that as a conference we got to this point during the time of COVID.”
The Seminoles were led on the afternoon by Clara Robbins and LeiLanni Nesbeth who were a part of all three Florida State goals.
The Seminoles jumped out of the gate on fire, scoring two goals in the first six minutes of the game, both by Clara Robbins. It all started one minute and 19 seconds into the game on a corner kick. Kristina Lynch got a hold of the ball in the first minute and pressured the Carolina defense, resulting in a corner kick for FSU just 44 seconds into the game. LeiLanni Nesbeth served in a perfect ball on the corner kick that was deflected by Kristen McFarland before getting to Clara Robbins who would knock it into the back of the goal, giving the Seminoles and early 1-0 lead.
Just four minutes later Robbins would do it again, this time from distance. It was all started by Gabby Carle who possessed the ball on the right side of the field near the midfield line. Carle passed it up the sideline to Nesbeth who cut towards the center of the field before passing it along to Clara Robbins about 25 yards from the net. Robbins would take a few steps before launching a rocket from 20 yards out off of the right post and into the back of the net, giving Florida State a 2-0 lead.
In the 13th minute, the Seminoles would get another corner that would end up on Robbins’ head, this time the UNC keeper was able to catch it. North Carolina then pushed the ball down the field to Emily Fox, who would challenge the Florida State defense, eventually leading to a UNC corner kick. The Carolina corner would go off the head of one of their player and just over the right corner.
A few minutes later in the 21st minute, Florida State would get a free-kick from about 25 yards out that would lead to a deep shot from Malia Berkely that would end up right at the UNC keeper.
One minute later, UNC would get its best look of the first half again on a corner kick. Brianna Pinto would get a nice look and fire it into the left side of the net, but guess who was there Clara Robbins. She was able to get a foot on the ball and knock it away.
Florida State would have two more opportunities before the half. In the 39th minute, the Seminoles would get another corner kick that Jaelin Howell would get her head on but was deflected away by the UNC defense. In the 44th minute, Florida State almost made it 3-0 on a cross from Ran Iwai. Her cross rolled by both Jody Brown and Lauren Flynn going off the right post before getting cleared away by the Carolina defense.
The Seminoles came out quickly in the second half to extend their lead to 3-0. Florida State scored just a minute and 12 seconds into the half on a LeiLanni Nesbeth goal, assisted by Clara Robbins. Nesbeth passed it to Robbins who with a one-touch pass got it back to Nesbeth. LeiLanni squeezed the ball between the UNC keeper and the bottom right corner to get her fifth goal of the season.
North Carolina narrowed the FSU lead with a goal in the 59th minute. The goal came on a penalty kick by Rachel Jones after a Kristina Lynch handball in the box lead to the PK.
In the 89th minute, North Carolina would score again to narrow the Seminole lead to one, but that would not be enough as the Seminoles would win 3-2 and their seventh ACC Championship in program history.
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Clara Robbins – Florida State (MVP)
Jaelin Howell – Florida State
Jenna Nighswonger – Florida State
Malia Berkely – Florida State
Cristina Roque – Florida State
Claudia Dickey – North Carolina
Brianna Pinto – North Carolina
Emily Fox – North Carolina
Sophie Jones – Duke
Diana Ordonez – Virginia
Alexa Spaanstra – Virginia