Despite outplaying their opposition for most of the game, second-ranked Florida State (4-1-0) fell to eighth-ranked Florida (4-1-0), 2-1. Friday night marked the end of a three game winning streak against the Gators, as well as FSU’s first loss of the season.
The Seminoles looked in control early on, and nearly took the lead in the 21st minute. Carson Pickett sent a looping ball into the box from the left side of the field, which Cheyna Williams flicked barely over the crossbar.
That would be the story of the night for the ‘Noles, considering they outshot the Gators 15-8, yet came away with only one goal.
Head coach Mark Krikorian said after the game, “We had a lot of very good performances from an awful lot of players. But again, at the end of the day it’s about putting the ball in the back of the net, and we have to be better at it.”
In the 25th minute, on their first shot of the game, the Gators took the lead after a deflected cross fell to the feet of midfielder Pamela Begic, who drove the ball just under the near post crossbar. The Gators extended their lead to two in the 35th minute, when Betsy Middleton slotted the ball just inside the far post from about 20 yards out.
“I think they did a better job of finishing their chances than we did,” said Krikorian
FSU looked like they had an immediate answer to the Gators’ first goal, as Pickett fought her way past several defenders in the box to get to a loose ball. Her shot rang off the crossbar and was cleared to safety by a Florida defender.
The ‘Noles finally managed to pull within one just before halftime to keep victory within sight. Pickett drove in a free kick from the center of the field, which Dagny Brynjarsdottir skillfully headed into the left side of the net for her fourth goal of the season.
Florida State goalkeeper, Cassie Miller, made two clutch saves in the middle of the second half to give her team an opportunity to equalize, but the Seminoles never could get that second goal. They had several opportunities in the last ten minutes of play, coming off headers from Berglind Thorvaldsdottir and Marta Barkowska-Mathews.
Thorvaldsdottir looked to have a sure goal, if not for a spectacular diving save from UF’s Taylor Burke to push it wide of the post. Burke had five total saves in the game.
A crowd of 3,569, the second largest in Seminole soccer history, showed up for the game, leaving no empty seats in the stands. Krikorian called the atmosphere fantastic, something he said the Florida coaches noted as well.
The crowd even spilled onto the grass behind the goal at the north end of the field. Many fans could also be seen watching from the top of the parking garage across the street.
“I think I’ve never seen this many people here, so I think it was nice to see so many fans supporting us. We need that,” said Brynjarsdottir.
Since 2007, the home team has only won one game in the series between the Seminoles and Gators.
This was the first home loss for the Seminoles since October 11, 2013, against Maryland.
FSU plays at home again Monday, September 8th, when they’ll take on St. Johns. That game will be at 7pm.
by MATT SIMONS / sports editor