TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A save by Caroline Jeffers, followed by a penalty kick from Yujie Zhao, propelled No. 5 Florida State (17-4-3) into the quarterfinals of the 2018 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship after the Seminoles and No. 6 USC (17-2-3) played to a 1-1 draw after 110 minutes, with FSU triumphing 5-4 in the penalty kick shootout.
It was the second time the Noles and Trojans had played this season as Top-10 opponents and both matches ended in a draw in Tallahassee.
Sunday’s PK shootout win is the second time the Noles have advanced in the NCAA Tournament on penalties, joining the 5-4 victory over UNC on the road in Chapel Hill in the 2005 quarterfinals.
Overall, Florida State has won each of its last four penalty kick shootouts, and are a combined 9-3 in a shootout across the NCAA and ACC Tournaments all-time.
“I would say that the game played out as we kind of thought it would as I expressed before the game,” said FSU head coach Mark Krikorian. “I have nothing but great respect for the group from the Southern California. Their coaches are exceptional, the players are very good and they play very hard and attacking style of soccer. But at the end of the day, we found a way to continue this journey.
“So, I think that we are very fortunate. We were very good but a little unlucky to be down a goal. The credit goes to them for scoring the goal. We fought back and Miss November (Dallas Dorosy) scored a goal. Caroline (Jeffers) also stood strong through the course of the game. It was a great shot that their player (Leah Pruitt) took. She is an absolutely incredible player and I feel for her especially because she is a senior. She is going to have a long career after her days in the college. I think that she is an exceptional player and an exceptional talent.”
Florida State started strong and nearly scored in the fourth minute as Kaycie Tillmanworked the ball into Zhao and the freshman made a great pass to Deyna Castellanos near the penalty spot. The junior’s shot was saved on a dive by USC goalkeeper Kaylie Collins and FSU’s Kristen McFarland ran up for the rebound, but her shot was blocked.
USC’s Tara McKeown made a run up the left side in the 15th minute and nearly got behind the FSU defense, but Gabby Carle gained inside position to keep her off the long ball and allow Jeffers to secure the ball.
Zhao and McFarland combined for a quality scoring chance for the Noles in the 21st minute as Zhao passed to McFarland at the top of the box. The forward dropped a pass to the right for Zhao to line a low shot that was saved by Collins and hit the outside of the left post for an FSU corner.
A Seminole corner kick in the 24th minute set up another chance for Castellanos and McFarland, but the result was the same as Castellanos’ shot was saved and the USC defense got in position to block McFarland’s follow up from 10 yards out.
USC opened the scoring in the 37th minute as Penelope Hocking made a run down the left side and tried to cross the ball into the box, but it was blocked by the FSU defense. The ball came back to her feet and she moved into the box and slotted a shot into the upper left corner for her 14th goal of the year, putting USC up 1-0.
The Noles had a chance to tie it up before halftime as a foul to Jaelin Howell allowed for a free kick from 30 yards, but the service couldn’t find a teammate in the box.
USC had a pair of shots in the 50th minute as Alea Hyatt’s attempt was blocked, but it rolled right Leah Pruitt, but her shot was wide of the net.
Zhao helped start the game-tying scoring chance in the 65th minute as she chipped a pass into the box for Castellanos, and her shot was saved away for a corner. On the corner, Malia Berkely’s service came into Howell at the top of the box and she headed into Dallas Dorosyand the senior finished it into the net to equalize the game at 1-1.
Dorosy nearly put the Noles in front in the 83rd minute as one of FSU’s 10 corner kicks was not cleanly cleared by USC and the ball came in to Dorosy and her shot from 10 yards was blocked by the USC defense.
USC’s Hocking hit a long-range shot that went off the crossbar in the 86th minute, and the follow-up shot by Natalie Jacobs was high as the match headed to overtime.
In the first overtime, Gloriana Villalobos made a run on the left and Castellanos sent a nice pass for her, but the shot in the 92nd minute was blocked.
USC hit the crossbar for the second time in the match as Alea Hyatt’s shot in the 93rd minute nearly ended the game.
Florida State created some quality chances in the second overtime as Berkely and Zhao sent low crosses in the box in the 101st and 102nd minutes, but they both rolled through the box untouched.
Villalobos took another shot from the left in the 108th minute that was saved by USC’s Collins and the ball bounced out to Howell at the top of the box, but her shot was blocked.
For the first time in Tallahassee, a match went to penalty kicks and USC went first. All four players from each team converted their kicks as USC’s Jacobs, Ally Prisock, Arlie Jones and Daria Petredes scored, and FSU’s Anna Patten, Natalia Kuikka, Carle and Howell all made theirs.
In the fifth round, USC’s Pruitt attempted to shoot it low inside the left post, but a diving touch by Jeffers pushed it wide of the net. Zhao stepped to the penalty spot and converted her kick to send the Noles into the NCAA quarterfinals.
Overall, FSU outshot USC 17-11, and 9-4 in shots on goal, while having a 10-5 advantage in corner kicks.
The Seminoles will host Penn State in the NCAA Quarterfinals on Friday, November 23 with specific game time announced after the completion of all NCAA third round games on Sunday.
Tickets will be on sale for Friday’s match at the FSU Ticket Office and are $8 for adults, $5 for seniors (50+) and $3 for youth (3-12), while children 2 and under will be free. Tickets can be purchased online at Seminoles.com or by phone at 888-FSU-NOLE (378-6653) throughout the week, or in person at the Seminole Soccer Complex at the Spirit Way Gate on Friday. The first 100 Florida State students will get in free.
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.