South Alabama junior Chardé Hannah scored a first-half goal, and the University of South Alabama soccer team held on to defeat No. 1 Florida State Monday evening.
The win is the Jaguars' first over a ranked opponent, and ends an eight-game losing streak to the Seminoles. The last three defeats under South Alabama head coach Graham Winkworth have come by a combined 15-0.
"I think it's still sinking in. What a phenomenal result," Winkworth said. "We've played extremely well so far at home this season and fortune has not favored us. Tonight we defended like absolute warriors and I could not be prouder. We played against the most talented, well-coached program in the country and they're going to go on and challenge for a national championship with the coaches and players that they have. But tonight was our night and we're going to enjoy it and soak it up, but it won't mean anything if we go to Austin Peay next weekend and don't perform."
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FSU held a 28-5 advantage in shots but was only able to get eight of them on target. The Seminoles peppered the USA goal with 18 shots after halftime.
"Not only were we defending with so many big numbers, but we were playing against maybe the most creative team in the country," Winkworth noted. "They've got phenomenal movement, they're very difficult to play against and they will go on to challenge for a national championship."
Jaguar freshman goalkeeper Justice Stanford, making just her second career start, had eight stops, including six in the second half alone.
"She had some fantastic saves," Winkworth noted. "We've got four phenomenal goalkeepers and Sarah (Hay) has pulled off some big games earlier in the year, like against Samford, but I felt like it was Justice's opportunity today. It was a case of trying to find the right blend of players that completely believed that we could win, and also stick some freshman in that don't know any better."
Hannah's strike came at the 24:23 mark and was her second of the season. South Alabama junior Danielle Henley won the ball after a punt from the USA goalkeeper, and fed a pass to Hannah, who managed to get around the FSU goalkeep and put the ball just inside the left post.
"With the way we were going to lineup today, we knew we weren't going to get many opportunities," Winkworth said. "The key was recognizing when we could get in behind and when we could maintain possession. That was one of the few opportunities we had in getting behind and Danielle played a lovely throughball, and the composure Chardé showed to take it around the goalkeeper and put it in was phenomenal."
The Seminoles took nine shots in the final 20 minutes to the Jags' none, forcing Stanford to make four saves during that span, including one with just under three minutes left in the contest.
"I wanted to make sure the girls stayed focused, because we've conceded some goals in overtime," Winkworth said. "Florida State did have one or two opportunities, but we were fortunate and rode our luck a little bit at the end."