CARY, N.C. – The top-seeded Seminole Soccer team (10-0) advanced to the ACC Championship for the 12th time in program history with a 4-0 shutout win over fourth-seed and No. 6 Duke (7-4-2).
“The score was not at all a reflection of the way the game went,” said head coach Mark Krikorian. “I thought Duke had a great game plan and fantastic execution. They disrupted our play and made it very difficult for us. In the first half, there was an intensity brought to the game that our kids didn’t start with. Credit to our group for being able to hang in there and find a goal.”
The Florida State offense exploded, scoring four goals in a game for the sixth time this season. All four goals came from four different student-athletes, with one each from Jody Brown, Jaelin Howell, Kristina Lynch and Jenna Nighswonger. Florida State has now scored 31 goals in 10 games.
The Seminole defense was stellar as well, led by freshman Cristina Roque in goal. The Noles recorded their eighth shutout of 2020. Roque came away with a career-high nine saves. Those nine saves matched the number of saves she had all season leading into the game. The defense was tested facing a season-high 13 shots and 10 on goal but proved why they are considered one of the best in the country by not allowing a goal.
“She is getting better and better and better and honestly we knew she was a talent but she has really grown through the course of the season,” said Krikorian on Roque. “She has found a physical part of her game that I was not sure she had coming into the team. There is no one that is going to doubt her with the ball and her technical quality, it is really really good. She is now turning into a competitor which is turning her into a more well-rounded player. She had a very good game and was very competitive and helped us possess the ball.”
Duke came out pressing to start the game, getting off an early shot in the third minute that required Roque to make the first of her three first-half saves. Three minutes later, Duke pressured the Seminoles defense but would not get anything from it.
Florida State showed their first threat on offense in the 15th minute when Kirsten Pavlisko passed it to Clara Robbins in the middle who then led LeiLanni Nesbeth perfectly before the Duke keeper got in the way. One minute later, Kristina Lynch made a nice run down the left side of the field before crossing it into the six-yard box, leading to a Kaitlyn Zipay shot. Her shot would be deflected in traffic leading to a Clara Robbins shot that would go over the net.
In the 26th minute, Duke had possibly their best look of the first half on a free kick from 25 yards out. The Blue Devils’ Caitlin Cosme launched a shot into the bottom left corner that Roque had to make a diving save to keep out of the goal. Duke would get the rebound but their shot would be blocked by Lauren Flynn.
The Seminoles finally go on the board in the 31st minute on a goal from Jody Brown, the fifth of her freshman campaign. The goal came from a perfect pass from Jenna Nighswonger that led her to the right post. Jody showed her speed and outran the Duke defense and shot it across the face of the Duke keeper into the left side of the net. The play was started by a nice pass from Emily Madril to Nighswonger in the midfield.
Duke came back quick with a corner kick 18 seconds later but would get nothing out of it. In the 44th minute, Duke got off another good shot that had to be saved by Roque in the top right corner. It was her third save of the half, tying her career-high for saves in a game.
The Blue Devils came out pressing once again to start the second half but Florida State made adjustments to limit Duke’s pressure. FSU got off a few shots early in the first half including a Howell shot to the bottom left corner of the net that was saved by Duke and another one that went just high.
In the 60th minute, Florida State broke through once again, this time on a corner kick. After not having a single corner in the first half FSU had three in a row, finally leading to a Seminole goal, this one by Howell. Nesbeth served in a nice ball that was deflected by the Duke keeper and wound up at Howell’s feet and she was able to give FSU a 2-0 lead. It was her fourth goal of the season, all on corner kicks.
Florida State extended their lead to 3-0 in the 65th minute on a goal from Kristina Lynch. This goal once again came off of a corner kick by LeiLanni Nesbeth. She kicked in a ball to Clara Robbins who headed it back to the center of the six-yard box where Lynch connected for her third goal of the season.
The Seminoles capped off their 4-0 victory with their last goal in the 77th minute by Jenna Nighswonger, her fourth of the season. It was set up by a nice pass from Jaelin Howell to Heather Payne who passed it into Nighswonger just right of the PK spot and she was able to get it by the Duke keeper.
Duke had eight shots in the second half with seven of them on goal but the Seminole defense was stout in keeping them off the board all game.
The Seminoles are back on the field at WakeMed Soccer Park on Sunday at 12 PM in the ACC Championship match against the winner of North Carolina and Virginia The match will be broadcasted on ESPNU.
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