ACC Women’s Soccer Championship: Three Straight For Florida State

Seminoles outlast Virginia 7-6 on penalty kicks to take home title

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CARY, N.C. (theACC.com) – Once again, Florida State found a way to take home the Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Soccer Championship crown.

Berglind Thorvaldsdottir’s successful conversion in the seventh round of a penalty kick shootout lifted the second-seeded Seminoles past top-seeded Virginia before 3,519 in Sunday’s title match at WakeMedSoccer Park.

The Seminoles (14-2-4) prevailed after regulation play ended in a 2-2 tie and two 10-minute overtime periods failed to produce a sudden-victory winner. Each side converted six successful PKs before FSU keeper Cassie Miller deflected a try by Virginia junior Meghan Cox to set up Thorvaldsdottir’s game-winner.

“I just reacted to the ball and hoped for the best,” Miller said of her PK save. “That’s my job – just get that one stop, and I know that the other players on our team are going to step up to get us the win.”

Florida State, which now turns its attention to defending its 2014 NCAA title, captured the ACC Women’s Soccer Championship for the third straight year and the fourth time in five seasons. FSU is now 25-1-5 in its last 31 matches against ACC opponents, with the only loss coming to Virginia two weeks ago in Charlottesville by a 1-0 score.

Virginia (15-1-2) entered Sunday’s match ranked first nationally, while Florida State was ranked No. 3. Both squads expect high seedings when the field for the 2015 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship is unveiled Monday at 4:30 p.m.

“This was a very challenging, tough game between two very good teams,” FSU head coach Mark Krikorian said. “I have all the respect in the world for Swanny (Virginia head coach Steve Swanson) and his staff and the way they play. It’s tough for one team to have to lose on penalty kicks, but I’m sure of one thing: Virginia is going to make a heck of a run in the NCAA Tournament. Who knows?  Maybe we will see each other again.”

The score stood 1-1at the end of an opening half that saw Florida State strike first at the 33:27 mark.  Natalia Kuikka – who had a pair of assists in Friday night’s 2-1 semifinal win over North Carolina – knocked in an 18-yarder following a turnover for her sixth goal of the season.

Kuikka, a freshman from Kemi, Finland, was voted the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

“Natalia is a very talented player – we have a lot of good, talented younger players,” Krikorian said. “We have a good balance between our senior class, which is very talented and shows great leadership, and our younger players. It’s a good formula, hopefully, for continued success.”

The Cavaliers pulled even at 1-1 with 13:05 left in the opening half on a goal by ACC Offensive Player of the Year Makenzy Doniak, who had earlier seen one shot on goal deflected and another good look from the right side hook wide. 

The score came on a wild scramble after Virginia junior Tina Iordanou’s cross into the box resulted in four Cavalier shots – one by Betsy Brandon and three by Doniak.  

The Seminoles regained the edge just over nine minutes into the second half, when junior Kristen Crowley connected off a rebound from short range to make it 2-1.  Doniak delivered the tying goal for Virginia with just over 24 minutes left in regulation, taking passes from Cox and Veronica Latsko and driving home a well-placed shot from the right wing.

Doniak’s two-goals gave her 60 for her career, setting a Virginia school record and moving her up to ninth place on the ACC’s all-time list. The 2-2 tie held up until the 90-minute mark and the two OTs, setting up the PK finish.

“Congratulations to Florida State,” Virginia’s Swanson said. “Not much different between the two teams, obviously. I thought we battled hard … It’s tough to come from behind twice against a team like that. It’s disappointing for us. Obviously, this was one of our goals. But we just have to move on, and I like where we are as a team heading into the NCAAs.”