24 Oct ’Noles survive No. 7 UNC road test to remain unbeaten
One of college women’s soccer’s fiercest rivalries was reignited on Thursday night at Dorrance Field as No. 7 UNC welcomed the undefeated Seminoles with a lot at stake for both teams.
The two giants last squared off at last year’s ACC Championship, where FSU took home the trophy after a Clara Robbins goal secured the 3-2 win. The Tar Heels came into Thursday sitting one spot behind Clemson in the ACC rankings, putting them outside of the conference tournament for the first time in school history.
As perfect as Florida State has been this season, they needed to keep up the pace with Virginia for the No. 1 seed in the tournament. However, the ’Noles would be without the services of Gabby Carle (Canada), Maria Alagoa (Portugal) and Heather Payne (Ireland) due to international duty.
Longtime FSU head coach Mark Krikorian adjusted his preferred 4-3-3, deploying sophomore Jody Brown into more defensive roles.
In a similar fashion to last year’s game, the Seminoles started thing off with an early goal. This time, it was sophomore transfer Beata Olsson, who also scored within a minute against Auburn earlier in the season. The Swedish star forward took a shot from nearly 30 yards out after sophomore Lauren Flynn booted a free-kick from FSU’s own third.
Florida State finished the game with 53% possession (71% season average), but the ’Noles turned the ball over far more than they have this season. Credit goes to UNC for their energetic press through 110 minutes, but it was clear FSU’s build-up play was severely affected by Carle’s absence in the backline.
In the 15th minute, a nearly identical play almost saw Olsson repeat from an even farther distance as UNC’s goalkeeper was caught away from the net, but the left post kept the game 1-0.
Krikorian’s team struggled to solve the problems UNC substitute Isabel Cox posed on the attacking third. The 5-foot-10 junior forward came in the 23rd minute and immediately challenged FSU’s backline.
In the 30th minute, a beautiful assist from another Tar Heel substitute leveled the game. Freshman Emily Murphy found Cox at the perfect moment to give her a chance she wouldn’t miss.
Shortly after, senior Yujie Zhao’s long-range effort was saved and North Carolina continued to find their comfort zone in the game.
The chess match resumed in the second half, with UNC coming out eager to score. In the 62nd minute, Cox found the back of the net again thanks to an excellent cross from sophomore Emily Moxley. Last year’s MAC Hermann Trophy winner Jaelin Howell was dispossessed near midfield leading to a UNC counter that left senior Kirsten Pavlisko out of position once again.
Cox would be matched by Olsson in the 79th minute as the Garnet and Gold wouldn’t quit. Junior midfielder Jenna Nighswonger passed the ball into space where Olsson would only need two touches to tie the game with a low-driven shot to the far post. The former Gator scored her team-leading 11th goal of the season along with an assist in just 13 games.
Neither team could break the deadlock as the end of regulation only got more physical, with both squads’ efforts deteriorating.
The first period of overtime saw neither team take a shot before the ’Noles shot twice to start the second period. UNC didn’t make any mistakes and Florida State appeared content to leave with a tie.
In the game’s final minute, however, Moxley delivered an excellent service to Cox for what looked to be the game-winner before sophomore Cristina Roque denied the Greensboro native to keep FSU’s 18 game ACC unbeaten streak alive. While their win streak might be over, the tie saw them clinch a spot in the ACC tournament with two games left.
The Seminoles will be back for their final road game test against No. 6 Duke on Sunday at 2 p.m. before they welcome No. 2 Virginia in the regular-season finale at the Seminole Soccer Complex.
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