ACC Women's Soccer Semifinals: Williams Leads Florida State Into the Final

Cheyna Williams scored both Seminole goals to lead two-time defending champion back to the ACC Final.

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CARY, N.C. ( – In a classic battle of two of the game’s elite programs, defending national champion Florida State outlasted North Carolina for a 2-1 win  in Friday’s second Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Soccer Championship semifinal game.

Cheyna Williams scored both of the Seminoles’ goals, including the tie-breaker with just under 25 minutes remaining, to lift second-seeded FSU past the third-seeded Tar Heels before 5,158 at WakeMed Soccer Park.

The third-ranked Seminoles (14-2-3) advanced to Sunday’s noon title game against top-ranked and top-seeded Virginia (16-1-1). 

The game will be televised nationally by ESPNU. Florida State blanked the Cavaliers 1-0 three times last season – including the ACC Championship and NCAA title games. Virginia handed FSU one of its two regular-season losses this fall – also by a 1-0 score 12 days ago in Charlottesville.

“We know Virginia is an excellent team – we saw that earlier in the year,” FSU coach Mark Krikorian said. “I think everyone in the country knows the quality that Virginia brings, and we have to get ready on short rest and recovery for Sunday’s game,”

North Carolina (14-4-1), ranked fifth nationally, remains in good standing for an at-large berth in the NCAA Championship when the field is announced Monday at 4:30 p.m.

“Obviously, I am disappointed in the result, but I wasn’t disappointed in our performance,” UNC coach Anson Dorrance said. “The first time we played them down in Tallahassee (a 1-0 loss on October 11), I thought we could have been down 3-0 or 4-0 at halftime. This time, I thought we played a heck of a lot better.”

The ebb and flow of the match affirmed  Dorrance’s assertion. Each team finished with 15 shots, and the outcome wasn’t settled until the game’s final moment, when Seminole keeper Cassie Miller snared UNC defender Julia Ashley’s soft, close-range header in the mouth of the goal.

“They were still the same UNC team they are every time we play them,” FSU’s Williams said. “They came out and battled like always.”

Florida State got on the board first at the 22:37 mark of the first half on a 9-yard header by Williams on assists from Isabella Schmid and Natalia Kuikka. 

North Carolina’s Summer Green appeared to tie the score just over a minute later, but her header goal off a throw-in was waved off due to an offsides penalty.

Green also saw a breakaway shot attempt sail wide in the first half, as did teammates Jessie Scarpa and Alex Kimball. FSU outshot UNC by a narrow 6-5 margin in the first 45 minutes, but all of the Seminoles’ shots were on goal, leaving Tar Heel keeper Bryane Heaberlin to make five saves.

The Tar Heels knotted the game less than four minutes into the second half, when Alexa Newfield lined in a penalty kick for a 1-1 tie. The ball appeared to be deflected by a Seminole defender, but still found its mark for Newfield’s team-leading 10th goal of the year.

Both teams missed scoring opportunities before Williams struck again from 18 yards in the 66th minute on a breakaway pass from Kuikka to put FSU back on top.  Friday night’s goals were Williams’ seventh and eighth of the season.  Her second one on Friday night held up for the final 24 minutes of the match, even though the Tar Heels got several more decent looks.

Sunday’s match against Virginia will find the Seminoles attempting to become the first team to win three consecutive ACC Championship titles since North Carolina claimed five straight from 2005 through 2009.