FSU shuts out Evansville in first round of NCAA tourney

Carson Pickett pushes the ball up the field as she looks for room to take a shot during FSU's soccer match against Evansville.

Carson Pickett pushes the ball up the field as she looks for room to take a shot during FSU’s soccer match against Evansville.




Special to the Outlook

Opening this postseason much like it ended last season, Florida State recorded a 3-0 shutout over Evansville this past Friday night at the Seminole Soccer Complex in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship.
It is the seventh consecutive shutout for the Noles in the NCAA postseason and they have not allowed a goal since the 2013 College Cup.

Berglind Thorvaldsdottir scored two goals for her first multi-goal game in the NCAA tournament and the seventh of her career. Fellow Iceland native Elin Jensen assisted on both Thorvaldsdottir goals to increase her season total to four.

“Evansville did great, didn’t they?” said FSU Head Coach Mark Krikorian. “They came in here and followed their game plan and battled and competed and gave us everything we could handle. I think that group certainly has earned even more respect than we had for them – and we had a whole lot of respect for them coming in the door. Very well coached team, their kids are very disciplined and I think they represented their school and their conference in a fantastic way.”

The Seminoles (15-2-4) will next play at 4:30 p.m. Friday in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship. FSU will face the winner of South Alabama and LSU at the Seminole Soccer Complex.

The Noles put Evansville (6-11-3) under pressure from the first whistle, but the defense of the Purple Aces made it difficult for FSU to find quality scoring chances early on as many shots were blocked or went wide of the goal.

Megan Connolly’s first shot of the game nearly became the first goal of the game as her strike from the top of the penalty box in the 15th minute deflected off an Evansville defender and ricocheted off the post and into the hands of UE goalkeeper Whitney Biggs.

Biggs made a great save less than two minutes later as Kirsten Crowley’s header from a Connolly corner kick was sharply directed on frame, but Biggs was properly positioned for the save and kept the game scoreless.

Connolly did find the back of the net in the 31st minute to open the scoring on a free kick from 25 yards. The freshman from Ireland was fouled by Evansville’s Jordin Campbell outside the box to set up the direct kick and Connolly served a ball over the wall and into the net to give FSU a 1-0 lead.

It was Connolly’s seventh goal of the season as she leads the team with 24 points, along with 10 assists.

UE goalkeeper Biggs continued to make some nice plays to hold the FSU offense at bay. In the 40th minute, Michaela Hahn lined a shot from 20 yards that was caught for a save. Just over a minute later, FSU’s Natalia Kuikka was open on the left side and Dallas Dorosy passed a great ball to the freshman who put a great foot to the shot, but again Biggs read the play and made another save.

Thorvaldsdottir scored the second FSU goal near the end of the first half, and would have earned an assist on it, if that were statistically possible. Thorvaldsdottir collected the ball on the left side outside the penalty box and found Jensen all alone out wide on the right.

Jensen took the ball down to the end line and served a ball back into the box for Thorvaldsdottir who continued with the play. The redshirt junior forward fought into position and stuck the ball into the net at 42:05 as the Noles took a 2-0 lead into the intermission.

Florida State had numerous chances in the second half, tallying 20 total shots in the final 45 minutes, but struggled to put many on frame. UE’s Biggs continued to make impressive saves for the Aces, earning seven stops in the second half and 11 total for the game.

Evansville had its best scoring chance in the 63rd minute, earning a penalty kick after FSU committed a foul in the box. Emily Richardson took the kick and placed a low shot to the left that went off the post and was cleared away by the FSU defense.

It was the first shot of the game for the Aces and Evansville ended the game with three shots and one on goal. Florida State finished with a season-high 34 shots, along with 14 on goal. Senior Isabella Schmid led all players with six shots, including three on goal.

The Noles put a pair of shots off the crossbar in the 72nd minute as Kuikka sent a long ball that sailed over the keeper, but off the bar and back into the box. Connolly attacked with a header, which also cleared the keeper but knocked off the crossbar and away from the net. Thorvaldsdottir got a foot on the loose ball, but her shot went high.
The final FSU score came in the final minute of the match as Jensen and Thorvaldsdottir paired up again for a Seminole goal. Jensen worked through the Evansville defense on the right and created enough space to send a cross into Thorsvaldsdottir for a header goal at 89:55.

“The best part of playing with Elin is that we can speak Icelandic to each other and telling her stuff like where I am, and where to put it and that helps,” said Thorvaldsdottir. “I just tell her where I’m going and to put it on the air or on the ground.”

“When you score goals, you gain confidence and in our ACC games you saw Cheyna knock in two and now you have Berglind knocking in two,” added Krikorian. “Our two strikers have scored four big goals in the last week or