BOCA RATON, Fla. -- In a battle of college soccer titans, Florida State took Stanford’s best shots and emerged unscathed.
Well, not quite. The second of Friday’s two semifinals in the 2014 Division I Women’s Championship game was hard-hitting and relentless, with the Seminoles eventually seizing a 2-0 victory.
They advance to Sunday’s national-title game against No. 3 Virginia, a familiar Atlantic Coast Conference foe. That match is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET at Florida Atlantic University Stadium. But first, give the Seminoles time to savor Friday’s victory. It echoed the last national semifinal matchup between the two teams, in 2011 in Kennesaw, Georgia. The Cardinal won that game 3-0 en route to their first national title.“Our kids came in and battled hard, fought hard and competed all over the field, which we knew we need to do to win this game,” FSU head coach Mark Krikorian said.
Holding Stanford — also a two-time national runner-up — scoreless is no mean feat. FSU took its own offense to the Cardinal, out-shooting Stanford 11-7. The toughness of the match was reflected in fouls, eight for FSU and nine for Stanford.
“Those kids from Stanford are good,” Krikorian said. “They’re really good and it’s a credit to our kids for being as disciplined as they were.”
And FSU forward Cheyna Williams outscored the Cardinal, tallying both goals and scoring twice for the second time in her last two games. Friday’s first goal, at 15:27, was set up by Emma Koivisto and Michaela Hahn. Williams took the feed into the top of the box and tucked the ball in a corner past Stanford goalkeeper Jane Campbell.
Her second goal, at 86:56, was a breakaway up the right side past both benches. Fed by teammate Jamia Field’s pass at midfield, Williams faked Campbell to her right and pushed the ball past her for the second score.
“Definitely couldn’t have happened without my teammates,” Williams said.
“She’s a great athlete and they play it forward to her and she comes at you with a difficult pace.” Stanford head coach Paul Ratcliffe said of Williams.
On the losing side, disappointment ran rampant.
“You can’t take anything for granted,” Stanford senior forward Lo’eau LaBonta said. “We thought this was our year and we let it slip by.”
“We wanted more, and the game, I kind of felt it slipped away from us,” Ratcliffe said, adding that after falling behind 1-0 in the first half, his team didn’t rebound the way he would’ve liked.
“I don’t know if it was anything they did.” Ratcliffe said of FSU’s strategy. “I just don’t think we really got in a rhythm like we usually do.”
Senior forward Chioma Ubogagu echoed the thought, saying although FSU wasn’t the most familiar opponent, that the Cardinal didn’t adopt any radical changes as part of their preparation.
“I think no matter the opponent we’re always going to play our game…we didn’t really change anything because we were playing FSU,” Ubogagu said.
“For the most part, I thought we did a really good job of not giving them a lot of looks,” FSU’s Krikorian said.
FSU is playing in its fourth consecutive College Cup and for the eighth time in program history. The Seminoles are the reigning runner-ups, after losing to UCLA in last year’s national title game. This is their 15th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.
“Certainly tonight was pretty good, but I think we’ve had a lot of games where we played against very good competition,” Krikorian said.