Dec. 7, 2007
College Station, Texas - Friday night in College Station was filled with a series of firsts for Florida State but none bigger than the Seminoles advancing to the play for the National Championship for the first time in school history. In a physical battle that featured 39 combined fouls, FSU defeated Notre Dame 3-2 in front of a crowd of 7,507, the second largest crowd to witness a soccer game at Aggie Soccer Stadium. Freshman Amanda DaCosta scored the game-winner, her third of the season, in the 72nd to propel the Seminoles into the finals where they will play the winner of UCLA and Southern California on Sunday.
Junior Mami Yamaguchi, semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, and freshmen Sanna Talonen and Amanda DaCosta was responsible for all the Florida State scoring as all three Seminoles registered a goal and an assist against the Irish.
"Well I'm really proud of our team," said head coach Mark Krikorian. "I thought that we came in, we fought hard for 90 minutes. I think overall they (Notre Dame) probably dominated the game a whole lot more than we did, but our team showed a lot of character and were pretty resilient and we took the chances when we got them. Overall of course, it's great to be going on and playing in the final for a National Championship on Sunday."
The Seminoles made the most of their scoring opportunities despite being held to just seven shots in the game as five were fired on goal.
The one-goal win was the second straight for the Seminoles as the Garnet and Gold ran their record to 5-5-0 in one-goal contests this year. Florida State has also scored three or more goals in all five tournament games this year.
"I think we were just more focused on the game today knowing that it's going to be a tough soccer game for 90 minutes," said senior defender Libby Gianeskis. "We came prepared mentally and just tried to fight the whole time."
It took Florida State all of 15 seconds to grab its first lead in four years at the College Cup on Yamaguchi's 24th goal of the season. Following an Irish turnover in the Seminole side of the field, DaCosta intercepted the ball and weaved her way through the Notre Dame defense. She fed a nice pass to Yamaguchi streaking down the middle of the field as the Tokyo, Japan native one-timed the pass into the lower right corner for the Seminole goal. DaCosta earned the assist on the play, her ninth of the season.
"When AD got the ball, I was trying to look at the space behind me, and I know she was looking for a space," added Yamaguchi on scoring the first goal of the game. "We always play off each other so we knew... I just played the ball and ran. She came and gave me such a good ball and I just needed to pass the ball into the net."
The goal was the quickest scored by the Seminoles in school history surpassing the previous record of 26 seconds set early in the season against North Florida. Freshman Sanna Talonen was credited with the goal against the Ospreys.
The record for the quickest goal scored in the NCAA Tournament by FSU came against Jacksonville in 2006 when Kelly Rowland scored three minutes and nine seconds into the first half.
The Irish's first good look came at the 9:25 mark as Amanda Cinalli sent a shot from just inside the box, but goalkeeper Erin McNulty was there for the save.
Notre Dame found the equalizer in the 15th minute off its first corner kick of game. Kerri Hanks sent a bending ball into the box where junior Carrie Dew volleyed the ball into the air. The ball redirected off a Seminole defender and into the net to tie the game at one.
The Seminoles grabbed the lead for the second time in the game on Talonen's eighth goal of the NCAA Tournament. Yamaguchi sent a beautiful ball into Talonen from the left side of the pitch. The Finland native went one-on-one with Irish keeper Lauren Karas as she came out to stop the ball on a diving attempt, but Talonen placed the ball just beyond the reach of Karas and just inside the right pole for a 2-1 advantage. The assist was Yamaguchi's team leading 18th of the season and eighth career tournament assist.
With the goal, Talonen tied the Florida State career record for goals in a postseason tournament as India Trotter tallied eight from 2004-2007. The two goals scored in the first half by Florida State were the most scored in a College Cup in school history.
Notre Dame came out of the locker room firing with six shots in the first 11 minutes of the second half. The first good look for the Irish came in the 48th minute as Hanks blasted a shot from the right side of the pitch. McNulty made a nice diving foot save to keep the Seminole lead at 2-1. In a span of two minutes, Michele Weissenhofer sent a header off a Notre Dame corner wide right and Elise Weber also followed with a header that just missed high.
The Irish tied the score for a second time as Weber, from the left side of the pitch, bent a blast from about 16 yards out into the upper left corner. With Weber looking to make a run to her left, the junior defender made a quick change to her right and one-timed a shot near post to tie the game at two.
Florida State once again took the lead on a goal by DaCosta in the 72nd minute. Talonen was credited with the assist as she sent a beautiful ball to DaCosta streaking down the middle field. Karas once again came out to disrupt the play but the freshman midfielder from Katonah, N.Y., slipped the ball underneath the diving Karas and into the lower left corner to give the Seminoles a 3-2 lead. The goal was DaCosta's sixth of the season and first since scoring in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament against Wake Forest.
"Coach told us, following the media timeout, that he doesn't want to go home tonight," said DaCosta. "I don't think anybody wanted to and he told us if we just went back in there and just fought--we had twenty minutes, he said. Just take our time and play our game, not their game. And we tried to do that as best we could."
Notre Dame had a chance to tie the game in the 84th minute but the header by Dew off an Irish corner sailed high.
Florida State controlled the flow of play for a good portion of the final five minutes hanging on to the one goal advantage and advancing to the national championship game for the first time in school history.
The Irish out shot the Seminoles 16-7, while maintaining a 7-1 advantage in corner kicks. The two teams combined for 39 fouls, three more than what the two teams registered a season ago.
Florida State will a wait to see who they will face in the national championship game on Sunday, December 9 at 2:00 EST. The game will be shown live on ESPN2. The Seminoles are 0-1-0 all-time against UCLA, while posting a record of 2-1-0 against Southern California.
"For us, we're excited to be going on to the championship finals. If we put our best effort forth for 90 minutes maybe we'll get a good result like we got today," added Krikorian.