TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – For the 10th time in school history, and the first time since 2015, the Seminoles are heading to the 2018 NCAA Women’s College Cup as No. 5 Florida State (18-4-3) posted a 1-0 shutout against No. 14 Penn State (18-6-1) in front of 2,209 fans on Friday afternoon at the Seminole Soccer Complex.
It was a tale of two halves in Tallahassee, but Deyna Castellanos’ goal in the 53rd minute was the difference after the Seminoles fought back into the game after Penn State outshot the Noles 6-2 in the opening 45 minutes and held significant possession.
“Today, in the first half, Penn State was the better team,” said FSU head coach Mark Krikorian. “They came out and took it to us probably better than anyone has all season long. So credit to them. The good news is that our group fought, competed and hung in there until the second half.
“The second half was much better with the goal from Deyna (Castellanos). Caroline (Jeffers) was strong and solid in the goal. Overall, it is about finding a way to win the game, score the goal and advance. We are proud to move on to Cary and have an opportunity to play there.”
Penn State put the pressure on early with three corner kicks in the first 10 minutes, but were unable to create a shot in any of those set piece opportunities.
The Nittany Lions were playing with a high defensive line and FSU’s Malia Berkely sent a long ball over the top for Yujie Zhao in the 14th minute, but the PSU goalkeeper, Amanda Dennis, got to the ball a step before Zhao to end the threat.
A Seminole foul allowed Penn State to take a free kick from 25 yards in the 22nd minute, but the FSU wall blocked the initial pass attempt and the ball bounced out to Emily Ogle on the left. The midfielder’s shot went over the crossbar.
Penn State’s Kerry Abello cut off an FSU pass in the midfield in the 25th minute and looked to be all alone on a counterattack before Natalia Kuikka sprinted back into position to take the ball off her without allowing a shot.
Anna Patten played a ball out to the right for Gabby Carle in the 36th minute, but her cross was secured by Dennis before it could get to Dallas Dorosy on the far post.
The best scoring chance for either team came in the 41st minute as Penn State’s Maddie Nolf crossed a long ball from the right into the corner of the six-yard box for Kim Dubs. The forward’s header was on frame, but FSU GK Caroline Jeffers made a diving save to keep the match squared at 0-0 heading into intermission.
Coming out for the second half, the Seminoles took control offensively and earned three corner kicks of their own in the opening five minutes of play. Senior Natalia Kuikka made a run up from the backline in the 49th minute and drove a shot from 30 yards on the left that knuckled toward the goal and PSU’s Dennis was able to get a palm on it and save it away for a corner.
The Noles scored the only goal of the match in the 53rd minute as Kaycie Tillman passed a ball from the right into Zhao near the penalty spot. The freshman dropped the ball back out Castellanos at the top of the box and the Venezuelan native lined it into the back of the net for her 10th goal of the season.
It marked the 15th game-winning goal of Castellanos’ career, which is second in FSU history, trailing only Dagny Brynjarsdottir who tallied 19 game-winners from 2011-14.
The Seminole defense stepped up its intensity and limited the Nittany Lions to just one shot over the first 37 minutes of the second half, as Florida State was more aggressive in the midfield and won many 50-50 balls.
Penn State’s best chance at an equalizer came in the 83rd minute as an FSU foul gave the Nittany Lions a free kick from 25 yards on the left. The free kick from Alina Ortega-Jurado bent over the FSU wall and nearly inside the right post, but sailed wide of the net.
It was the last chance as the Seminoles controlled possession for the final seven minutes to secure the victory. FSU and PSU tied with eight shots each and five corners apiece, but the Noles had five shots on goal to the two for the Nittany Lions.
The Seminoles will play in the NCAA Semifinals at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C., on Friday, November 30 versus the winner of No. 1 Stanford and No. 10 Tennessee. The game will begin at either 5:00 p.m. or 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU. Tickets are available through NCAA.com and will be $40 for the entire weekend for adults, or $26 for each day.
Throughout 2018-19, the Seminoles will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of women’s intercollegiate athletics at Florida State and there are many events and reunions planned for all women’s sports. Head to www.seminoles.com/50th/ for more information that will be updated throughout the year.
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