TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In front of 3,154 people, the fourth-largest crowd in program history, the No. 6 Florida State soccer team and the Florida Gators put on a thrill for the crowd.
“Today was more about coming out fully prepared and ready to compete against a really good team and I thought we did that,” FSU head coach Mark Krikorian said. “That was the number one goal because I thought against UCLA and USC, we didn’t do go out and compete as well as we need to. I thought tonight we brought it very, very well and overall, I think it was a good performance start to finish with limited hiccups here and there.”
With the 2-1 come-from- behind win, the Seminoles (3-2) took down the Gators 2-1 (2-3) to tie the all-time series at 13 apiece.
“Any time you’re playing a group like Florida and you win, it’s a great feeling,” Krikorian said.”They’re a very, very good team. They’re going to win a lot of games and it was a hard-fought contest.”
Florida State had some early attempts on goal as Deyna Castellanos and Yujie Zhao got shots off in the first five minutes but could not connect.
In the 25th and 27th minutes, Florida had corners but nothing came out of them. Coming out of the water break, Jaelin Howell fired a shot on a good look but was just a little bit high.
With under 30 seconds left in the first half Jenna Nighswonger got a great look on goal but once again was just high as the ball landed in the top of the net.
Coming out of half Florida took a 1-0 advantage with a goal from Tess Sapone in the 53rd minute.
The Seminole bounced right back with a goal just over four minutes later. Kristen McFarland scored her second goal of the rivalry as she scored the game-winning a season ago. The Florida goalie stopped playing as the ball was live and McFarland got control and put it in the back of the net for the equalizer.
“McFarland’s a warrior. She comes out and competes, does her best every time,” Krikorian said. “She’s the kind of kid that every coach loves because you know you’re going to get the best effort and she was rewarded with hard work again today.”
The Seminoles had a few more chances with a free-kick from the corner by Castellanos in the 60th minute and a Castellanos shot off a Zhao corner in the 66th minute.
Florida State took their first lead of the match in the 71st minute on Zhao’s first goal coming off of Jaelin Howell’s first assist of the season.
Things got interesting in the 80th minute after there was a red card on FSU goalie Caroline Jeffers, leading to a Florida Penalty Kick. Brooke Bollinger came into the game cold of the bench and made an amazing save laying out to her right.
“It was a lot of chaos at first, a lot of nerves,” Bollinger said of her thought process in the hectic situation. “But as soon as I got in, I was confident and just ready.”
For the next 10 minutes, the Seminoles played keep away not allowing the Gators to tie it up.
Florida State is back at the Seminole Soccer Complex on Sunday to take on Samford at 1 pm. The game will also be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.
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