Florida State will play for its third ACC title in the past four years after the top-seeded Seminoles turned back fourth-seeded Notre Dame 3-1 on Friday night in the semifinals of the ACC women’s soccer tournament at chilly UNC Greensboro Soccer Stadium.
The Seminoles (17-1-1), ranked second nationally, got goals from seniors Dagny Brynjarsdottir, Megan Campbell and Jamia Fields and were in control from the outset.
Florida State goalkeeper Cassie Miller came within an eyelash of her ninth shutout of the season, but Karin Simonian scored with 3.5 seconds left for Notre Dame (12-5-2), ranked 10th nationally in the coaches poll. It was only the ninth goal Miller has allowed all season.
Second-seeded North Carolina (12-2-2) played third-seeded Virginia (17-1) in the second semifinal. The winner will meet FSU at 1 p.m. Sunday in the title game.
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Florida State did not play Notre Dame during the regular season because of the ACC’s unbalanced schedule but had no trouble taking control and imposing its imprint on play.
“I thought our group played a very hard game,” FSU coach Mark Krikorian said. “We started off with a great deal of intensity and were very focused. I thought for the first 35 minutes we were very sharp.
“In the second half Notre Dame did a very good job of making it more difficult for us to play. That being said we still generated some chances.”
The Seminoles broke on top early, and it was Brynjarsdottir, named ACC Offensive Player of the Year this week, who did the honors. Junior midfielder Carson Pickett found a wide-open Megan Campbell on the left flank, and the senior defender had plenty of time to send a long diagonal service to Brynjarsdottir lurking at the right post.
The forward from Iceland rose up and headed the ball in for her 14th goal of the season, second best in the ACC, at the 21:02 mark.
“We got the goal early and were able to calm down and keep the ball more,” Brynjarsdottir said. “We are an experienced team, and almost all of us have been here before. That definitely helps us.”
Five minutes later Campbell made it 2-0 on a penalty kick after Notre Dame’s Katie Naughton took down FSU’s Isabella Schmid in the penalty area. It was Campbell’s second goal of the season and was something of a surprise that she was called upon for the shot.
“We have eight or nine kids who are very capable of taking penalty kicks,” Krikorian said. “Megan looked at me and gave me the nod. … I’d like to take the credit for that call, but I can’t.”
Florida State had great several opportunities to add to the lead, including another point-blank header by Brynjarsdottir, before Fields found the range from 16 yards on a cross from Cheyna Williams at 83:41 to make it 3-0.
Sophomore defender Kirsten Crowley had a header skim off the crossbar in the 29th minute, and Hikaru Murakami saw her attempt from 18 yards in the 70th carom off the bar.
The Seminoles had a whopping 18-5 advantage in shots overall, and although the Irish had a territorial advantage in the second half, they didn’t get off the first of their two shots in that half until the 82nd minute. Simonian scored from 18 yards off a corner kick.
Miller was not credited with a save, while Kaela Little finished with seven for Notre Dame.