FSU stifles UNC offensively as Noles win third straight ACC women’s soccer title

By R.L. Bynum

CARY — Carolina has the women’s soccer tradition, but Florida State again showed that it continues to be the team to beat for now.

The No. 5-ranked and No. 2-seed Seminoles rallied from a goal down early to beat the No. 2-ranked and No. 1-seed Tar Heels 2–1 Sunday for their third consecutive ACC tournament title before 3,876 fans.

Carolina (15–4–1) won at FSU by the same score on Oct. 20 despite getting outshot for the only time during the regular season. 

The Tar Heels again were outshot (12–7) but couldn’t overcome the offensive pressure from Florida State (13–2–4.) Few Tar Heels created anything offensively other than Avery Patterson, who scored Carolina’s only goal.

“They shut down our whole front line,” UNC coach Anson Dorrance said, noting that Patterson had five of his team’s season-low seven shots, and only one reserve got off a shot. “That’s not good enough against anyone. We’ve got to make sure that the rest of our frontline is in the fold. This can’t just be the Avery Patterson show. We’ve got to have more people contributing, stepping up, obviously taking responsibility.”

Florida State made a point of marking UNC forward Ally Sentnor. The Noles held her without a shot after Sentnor got off five and scored the game-clinching goal at Tallahassee.

“I could hear that screaming from the bench ‘don’t let her shoot,’ ” Dorrance said.

It looked like Carolina might get a penalty kick in the second half when it appeared that Florida State would get a handball, but it wasn’t called.

“I think there was an opportunity for us today. Obviously, I’ll have to look more closely at the tape,” Dorrance said. “We had a chance; I think there was a possible handball in there. I’m not absolutely sure. We had the ball in their box a little bit, certainly enough to score another one.”

The struggles to create scoring chances that the Tar Heels dealt with in the 0–0 semifinal tie with Duke continued against the Seminoles. 

UNC got off a season-low two first-half shots, and it wasn’t until the 78th minute before it got off a second-half shot to end a 50-minute shot drought as FSU kept getting defenders behind the ball all day.

“I think that you have to rein yourself back,” Patterson said. “Because when you don’t get a shot for 50 minutes, it’s hard not to want to put the team on your shoulders and try and do everything yourself.”

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This is for a UNC team that averages 18 shots and has never previously had fewer than 10 in a game (in a 1–0 victory over Wake Forest). The Tar Heels went without a corner kick for the first time all season.

Patterson took a crossing pass from Isabel Cox, juked a defender and fired a left-footed shot past Seminoles keeper Cristina Roque in the 23rd minute. It was UNC’s first goal in more than 155 minutes.

“Inside the 18, I get eager to shoot,” Patterson said. “So, normally, I would have probably taken that in one or two touches. But there’s a voice in the back of my head, Anson and [assistant coach] Damon [Nahas] saying, ‘be calm in the box, be calm in the box,’ and I did what I had to do. It was kind of a heat-of-the-moment type of thing. So I don’t even remember celebrating with my teammates after that.”

Florida State tied it in the 31st minute when tournament MVP Jenna Nighswonger curved a left-footed corner kick into the net to end UNC goalkeeper Emmie Allen’s shutout streak at 357 minutes. That streak began after Nighswonger assisted on an FSU goal in the fifth minute of UNC’s win at Tallahassee.

“There’s a name for that, and it’s called an olympico,” Dorrance said on the goal that beat Allen. “It basically bent from the corner spot into the back of the net. With someone taking 50 of those, I don’t think she’d let any in. With the strain and stress of the moment, she felt she had to run out. She overran it, and it ultimately goes over her head into the back of the net.”

Carolina seemed to have the overall better of the play before the corner-kick goal against UNC’s second unit, but that score flipped the momentum for the rest of the game.

It took a little more than three minutes into the second half before Jody Brown pounced on a rebound after Allen knocked away a Nighswonger shot to give FSU its first lead of the game at 2–1.

NOTES —  Carolina is 5–4 in ACC title games against FSU. … UNC is 71–8–6 all-time in ACC tournament play. … The Tar Heels failed to win the ACC tournament as the No. 1 seed for only the fourth time in 22 tries and are 56–3–4 as the top seed. … UNC is 14–4 when it scores first. … UNC forwards Emily Moxley and Avery Patterson and center back Tori Hansen made the all-tournament team.

No. 5 FSU 2, No. 2 UNC 1

DateMonth/dayGame/scoreOpponent
(current rank)
LocationTV/
record
August
7SundayW, 5–0VCU HomeExhibition
13SaturdayW, 2–0BYUHomeExhibition
18ThursdayW, 3–0TennesseeHome1–0–0
21SundayW, 2–0UNCWHome2–0–0
25ThursdayW, 2–0TexasAustin, Texas3–0–0
28SundayW, 6–0BaylorAustin, Texas4–0–0
September
1ThursdayW, 3–1MissouriColumbia, Mo.5–0–0
4SundayL, 2–1No. 1 UCLAHome5–1–0
8ThursdayW, 3–0X-No. 8 DukeDurham6–1–0
11SundayW, 2–1Central FloridaHome7–1–0
17SaturdayL, 3–2No. 11 VirginiaHome7–2–0,
0–1–0 ACC
22ThursdayW, 1–0SyracuseSyracuse, N.Y.8–2–0,
1–1–0 ACC
25SundayW, 3–0Boston CollegeHome9–2–0,
2–1–0 ACC
October
1SaturdayL, 2–1Virginia TechBlacksburg, Va.9–3–0,
2–2–0 ACC
6ThursdayW, 4–0No. 19 PittsburghHome10–3–0,
3–2–0 ACC
9SundayW, 2–0N.C. StateHome11–3–0,
4–2–0 ACC
14FridayW, 1–0Wake ForestHome12–3–0,
5–2–0 ACC
20ThursdayW, 2–1No. 5
Florida State
Tallahassee, Fla.13–3–0,
6–2–0 ACC
23SundayW, 4–0MiamiCoral Gables, Fla.14–3–0,
7–2–0 ACC
27ThursdayW, 1–0LouisvilleLouisville, Ky.15–3–0,
8–2–0 ACC
NovemberACC tournament
3ThursdayT, 0–0, 2 OTs (UNC advances 7–6 on PKs)Semifinal vs.
No. 8 Duke
Cary15–3–1
6SundayL, 2–1Final vs. No. 5 Florida StateCary15–4–1
NCAA tournament
12SaturdayW, 5–0First round:
Old Dominion
Chapel Hill16–4–1
17ThursdayW, 3–1Second round: Georgia Chapel Hill17–4–1
19SaturdayW, 3–2Third round:
No. 15 BYU
Chapel Hill18–4–1
26SaturdayW, 2–0Quarterfinals:
No. 4
Notre Dame
South Bend, Ind.19–4–1
DecemberCollege Cup
2Friday6 p.m.Semifinals: No. 5 Florida State CaryESPNU
5Monday6 p.m.ChampionshipCaryESPNU
X — Non-conference game.

Photo  by Jaylynn Nash courtesy of the ACC

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