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Nov. 6, 2011
By Rob Daniels for theACC.com
CARY, N.C. (theACC.com) - The Florida State women's soccer team hadn't won an Atlantic Coast Conference championship to that point, but in the decisive stretch Sunday, the Seminoles certainly looked like they had seen this story play out before.
Accurately diving to where Wake Forest's shooters would try to beat her, goalkeeper Kelsey Wys rejected three of the four penalty kicks she faced in the shootout to elevate the Seminoles to the conference title in a game they trailed with less than six minutes left in regulation. The contest goes down as a 1-1 tie, but because they can't halve the trophy and the rules of the game mandate some form of certainty, Florida State reigns.
"Getting the first save always gives me more confidence," said Wys, the tournament's MVP. "And I think it gives the whole team more confidence to go from there."
Deacons coach Tony da Luz praised FSU for its advance work.
"Florida State did a good job of scouting penalties because (Wys) guessed right every time," said da Luz, whose team nearly repeated its 2010 title.
Hikaru Murakami, CC Cobb and Marta Bakowska-Matthews converted penalty kicks for the Seminoles, who won the tie-breaker 3-1 when Wys turned back India Winford's attempt in what baseball parlance would term the bottom of the fourth.
FSU won by a variety of means. The Seminoles defeated North Carolina in overtime - a Garnet and Gold goal, if you will - in the quarterfinals; scored twice in an eight-minute span of Friday's second half vs. Virginia to turn a deficit into a 2-1 regulation win; and went down to the wire on Sunday.
The Deacs took a 1-0 lead in the 64th minute when forward Katie Stengel pounced on a loose ball on the doorstep and slammed it home. The tally was Wake's sixth of the tournament; all of them resulted from corner kicks and all involved Rachel Nuzzolese to one degree or another.
As Wake approached its second straight title, FSU threw everybody forward in the name of creating chaos. The equalizer almost certainly wasn't going to mimic the two artful goals the Seminoles got against Virginia in the semis.
"We like to score beautiful goals, but sometimes, the ball bouncing off this player and that player is just as valuable," coach Mark Krikorian said.
That's the way it played out here. When the Deacs blocked Janice Cayman's shot from the top of the box, the ball bounced toward Jessica Price, who smartly played it forward and into the box rather than trying an improbable shot of her own. Tiffany McCarty ran onto it and scored with relative ease and with 5:09 on the clock.
"It's important to stay on your toes because anything can happen," Price said. "You never know where the ball is going to go."
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Both of these teams do know where they're going from here: the NCAA tournament, for which selections will be announced Monday. The Seminoles and Deacons are candidates to host early-round action.
"We're still very confident in ourselves as a tight-knit team, and we know we can go really far in the tournament," Wake defender Alisha Woodson said. "This next week is a new season."
2011 ACC Championship All-Tournament Team
Kelsey Wys, Florida State (MVP)
Rachel Nuzzolese, Wake Forest
Katie Stengel, Wake Forest
Kim Marshall, Wake Forest
Aubrey Bledsoe, Wake Forest
Tiffany McCarty, Florida State
Jessica Price, Florida State
Janice Cayman, Florida State
Toni Pressley, Florida State
Kim DeCesare, Duke
Molly Menchel, Virginia