Seminoles’ triumph is third NCAA College Cup in last eight seasons

By Official Florida FC

Florida State ended the 2021 season the way it started: No. 1.

The Seminoles earned their third national championship on Monday night defeating BYU in penalty kicks at Stevens Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Florida State All-American Yujie Zhao sent her penalty kick to the bottom left corner to set off a celebration that was deferred, but not denied.

“That was a great feeling,” Zhao told reporters afterward. “I have a faith…It’s a little unfortunate we didn’t score a goal in the regular time, but I have a faith that we are going to win in (penalty kicks).”

Florida State finished the season 22-1-2. The Seminoles believed they had unfinished business after losing to Santa Clara in penalty kicks of the 2020 Women’s College Cup.

Monday night, the new champions possessed and created space all throughout the final third. What the Seminoles couldn’t do was score a goal against a BYU defense that had shutout No. 1 seed Virginia and reigning national champions Santa Clara en route to the final.

BYU (17-4-2) nearly breached the Seminoles’ defense in the 38th minute but was judged to be offside. That was the best chance the Cougars would get.

Florida State only put one shot on goal. But, the Seminoles kept their legs for 110 minutes and their composure during the shootout to win the national title.

Clara Robbins, Heather Payne, Jaelin Howell and Zhao all made their penalty kicks. Cristina Roque saved two penalty kicks, including on BYU’s fifth attempt to ensure that any tears the Seminoles shed would be joyous.

Monday’s win capped an extraordinary year for FSU defender Gabby Carle, who won a gold medal with the Canadian national team during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Carle, Howell, Zhao and St. Johns Country Day graduate Kirsten Pavlisko, this was their second national championship. The quartet all started the 2018 Women’s College Cup final over North Carolina as freshmen.

Florida State outscored opponents 66-13 this year. The Seminoles allowed only one goal in 570 NCAA Tournament minutes played.

For Seminoles head coach Mark Krikorian, the victory moves him into elite company in women’s college soccer. Florida State is only the third program to win three NCAA Division I women’s soccer championships. Krikorian’s three national titles as a head coach is second only to the incomparable Anson Dorrance.

“It feels quite nice to be sitting on this side of it,” Krikorian told reporters afterward. “Last year, I thought that we were quite good and we had some unfinished business we needed to address.”

Photo courtesy Florida State University Athletics.

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