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Two first-half goals spark defending champion Seminoles past Notre Dame
GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – The defending champion wasted little time making a statement at the 27th annual Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Soccer Championship.
Top-seeded Florida State stuck for two goals in a span of just under six minutes midway through the opening half of the first semifinal game and went on to post a 3-1 win over fourth-seeded Notre Dame on Friday night.
A shivering crowd at UNCG Soccer Stadium watched the Seminoles (17-1-1) earn a spot in Sunday’s championship game. FSU will face the winner of Friday night’s second semifinal match between second-seeded North Carolina and third-seeded Virginia. Sunday’s match will begin shortly after 1 p.m. and will be televised nationally by ESPNU.
With a 12-5-2 record against a difficult schedule and a No. 14 RPI, Notre Dame remains poised for a solid seeding the upcoming NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship when pairings are announced this Monday at 4:30 p.m.
The Seminoles consistently held possession in their half of the field throughout the game’s opening minutes and finally broke through at the 21:02 mark, when senior Dagny Brynjarsdottir headed in a shot off a double assist from Carson Pickett and Megan Campbell.
The goal was the 14th of the season for the ACC Offensive Player of the Year and marked the Iceland native’s sixth straight match scoring at least one goal.
Florida State struck again at 26:43, when Campbell scored off a penalty kick to make it 2-0. Prior to Friday night, Notre Dame had allowed just one first-half goal the entire season – in the 23rd minute against Illinois in the season opener on Aug. 22.
The Seminoles outshot Notre Dame 9-3 in the first 45 minutes and led 5-1 on corner kicks.
Brynjarsdottir just missed her second goal midway through the second half, when her header from near-point blank range was rejected by Irish keeper Kaela Little. Florida State tacked on its final score in the 84th minute, when senior midfielder Jamia Fields talied her first goal of the season off an assist from Cheyna Williams.
Notre Dame’s Karin Simonian denied Florida State and keeper Cassie Miller their 13th shutout of the season, when she scored off an assist from Kaleigh Olmsted for her third goal of the year and the final 3-1 margin.
Florida State entered the match holding the No. 2 spot in both the NSCAA and Soccer America national polls, while Notre Dame was ranked 10th by the NSCAA and No. 8 by Soccer America. Friday night’s game marked the first meeting of the year between the top-10 teams, as they did not play during the regular season.
The Seminoles are seeking their second straight ACC Women’s Soccer Championship title and their third overall, all under head coach Mark Krikorian.
Florida State postgame quotes
Head coach Mark Krikorian:
“I thought that our group played a very hard game. We started out with a great deal of intensity and came out with a lot of focus. The quality of our play was quite good. The defending was good, and for the first 35 minutes of the game we were very sharp. I thought that maybe the last 10 minutes of the first half we weren’t quite as sharp. Then, when we came out for the second half, Notre Dame did a very good job of making it more difficult for us to play. But with that being said, we still generated some pretty good chances. It took an awful long time to get the third goal to somewhat seal the game.”
On confidence as FSU defends its title:
“We have a veteran team, an experienced team. The group has done a good job from the start of the season to this point on being focused an having concentration. I am not surprised that we came out and played well from the start, given our experienced group.”
Senior Dagny Brynjarsdottir
On her goal that opened the scoring:
“Carson (Pickett) had a great play to Megan, and then Megan made a great play to me into the box. I only had to finish it. They made it easy for me.”
On her near miss in the second half:
“I should have scored another one there. Jamia (Fields) played me a great ball. It was a great save by their keeper, but I should have scored, definitely.”
Notre Dame head coach Theresa Romagnolo
“It was a tough one for us. I thought in the second half we played better, but in the first half we came out a little flat. Florida State is too good of a team for us to not show up and compete for everything, and I think they exposed us some in a lot of ways in the first half.
What specifically did Florida State do that caused you problems, particularly in the first half?
“Overall, they are very athletic. They are a very physical team, and I felt that on the day we were a little undisciplined in our defending. They had a lot of time on the ball to make decisions, and a lot of those decisions resulted in some players who were given some very good opportunities to go to goal.”
How can this match help you as you prepare for the NCAAs next week?
“For us, these games are great because we get to measure ourselves and see where we are at. Over the course of the season, we’ve had a couple of these games, but not a lot. I think that with each of these experiences, we learn and try to get better. On the whole, we’ve had a very good season, and we want to try to learn from this experience, and take that into the NCAA Tournament and move on from there.”