CARY, N.C. – Deyna Castellanos delivered the pass that put the national championship within reach.
Dallas Dorosy calmly put it into the back of the net.
Castellanos’ low, early cross and Dorosy’s sliding finish in the 60th minute lifted Florida State to a 1-0 victory over North Carolina in Sunday’s NCAA College Cup Final, clinching FSU soccer’s second national title in front of 12,512 fans – most of them wearing Carolina blue – here at WakeMed Soccer Park.
“Me and Deyna, we made eye-contact,” Dorosy said. “And just, with everything I had, I threw my body in there. I didn’t even know it went in until I looked up.”
Consider it the latest heroics for Dorosy, recently nicknamed “Miss November” after scoring four goals in last month’s postseason run.
Dorosy’s title-winner was the senior’s seventh of the season and third against North Carolina. And it would be hard to find another more beautiful.
With the game tied 0-0 midway through the second half, Castellanos carried the ball down the right wing and backed off her defender as Dorosy made a break for the near post – the type of play the two had made hundreds of times on the practice fields.
Castellanos sent a low, curling ball around one defender and in front of another, and Dorosy’s foot found it for the finish.
“That’s something we always work on,” Castellanos said. “She was there how I expected. It was a great finish.”
— NCAA Soccer (@NCAASoccer) December 2, 2018
Added Dorosy: “I couldn’t ask for a better ball. There was a player on her, a player on me, and the ball was in a perfect spot.”
After the game, coach Mark Krikorian joked that, since the calendar recently changed to December, perhaps Dorosy’s nickname should, too:
“I did rename her Miss December now,” he said with a laugh. “I asked her, and she’s good with it.”
Dorosy’s winner gave FSU the edge on what was a tense, physical and sometimes frantic afternoon.
The Seminoles and Tar Heels finished with an equal number of shots (eight), saves (two) and fouls (12), and although UNC had a 5-1 advantage in corner kicks, it also got caught offside five times.
The intensity reached its peak in the game’s waning moments, as UNC desperately pushed forward in search of the tying goal.
The Tar Heels attempted four shots over the final 25 minutes, but put only one on target.
“My heart was pounding,” senior midfielder Kaycie Tillman said. “We were just trying to keep the lead, play as safe as possible and make sure we secure the win.”
UNC’s best opportunity might have come in the 88th minute, after a shot deflected behind the goal line for a corner kick.
But with a heavily-partisan Carolina crowd on its feet – including UNC hoops coach Roy Williams – FSU’s Olivia Bergau headed the ball out of the penalty area, then Dorosy cleared it downfield and the threat was over.
A little more than two minutes later, the official’s whistle blew, and the Seminoles had done it.
“I got so worked up,” senior midfielder Megan Connolly said with a smile. “I couldn’t cope. Five minutes left and they were in our box? I couldn’t cope. But the team just fought through.”
The Seminoles have done a lot of fighting over the last month.
On Oct. 28, FSU entered the ACC tournament on an uneven run of form, having just lost at Miami and getting set to visit No. 9 Duke in a quarterfinal match that would set the tone for the postseason.
But Florida State topped the Blue Devils, 1-0, in Durham and never lost again.
The Seminoles went on to beat No. 12 Virginia and No. 3 North Carolina on the way to an ACC tournament title, and then No. 20 South Florida, No. 6 Southern California and No. 14 Penn State to earn a spot in their 10th College Cup.
They then beat No. 1 and defending national champion Stanford on Friday to set up their title-game clash with UNC, a program that has won 21 of a possible 37 NCAA women’s soccer titles.
No wonder coach Mark Krikorian called it a “murderers’ row.”
“We worked so hard for this,” Dorosy said. “To go through adversity – we had some lows in the season and we worked through it – I think it makes it that much more valuable.
“We worked for it, and I think we deserved it, for sure.”
With their second title in hand, FSU’s place among the nation’s elite is both deserved and undisputed.
In the span of the last few weeks, the Seminoles have:
Following its first title in 2014, the Seminoles adorned their uniform with a star emblem atop the “FSU” badge, a tradition in international soccer that symbolizes previous championships. (The Brazilian national team, for example, has five stars to represent its five World Cup titles.)
Come August, when the defending champion Seminoles begin their title defense, their jerseys will have two stars.
Several key members of this year’s team, including Castellanos, ACC newcomer of the year Yujie Zhao and freshman Jaelin Howell, the College Cup’s most outstanding defensive player, will be there for it.
For those who won’t, a senior class that includes Dorosy, Tillman and Connolly, as well as co-captains Natalia Kuikka and Olivia Bergau, there’s no better way to finish their careers than what happened here on Sunday afternoon.
“I kind of have no words,” said Kuikka, a Finland native who held back tears as she watched the post-match celebration.
“I’ve practiced for this for four years. This was the only goal. The only reason I came to play college soccer. It’s been ups and downs and hard work, tears. But it feels amazing when you get here.”