ACC Tournament takes on prominent meaning as FSU soccer closes season

Florida State typically uses the ACC Tournament as a final tune-up for the NCAA postseason. This year is very different with the pandemic, with the goal now an ACC crown before taking a break until the proposed NCAA Tournament in the spring.

No. 2 FSU (8-0) begins play in the ACC Tournament on Tuesday against Notre Dame at 12:30 p.m. (ACC Network). The Seminoles open as the No. 1 seed in the tournament for a fourth time in program history.

“It is weird for me,” FSU coach Mark Krikorian said. “For me, our goal here at Florida State has been to compete for the national championship. Playing such a great conference schedule and then an opportunity ACC tournament is just a step in the path. Certainly we’re all grateful, appreciate what we have, and have the opportunity to go and have an ACC tournament. But it is a different feeling.”

When the two teams met earlier this season, in the season opener, Florida State dominated Notre Dame 5-0. Yujie Zhao scored the first goal for the Seminoles in the 20th minute. Florida State went into the half with a 2-0 lead after Emily Madril scored her second career goal and first since 2017 after she missed the last two seasons with injuries. In the second half, Zhao struck again, giving FSU a 3-0 lead. Nighswonger and Brown capped things off with goals in the 68th and 79th minutes.

The Florida State-Notre Dame winner takes on the winner of Duke and Clemson on Friday at 5:30 p.m. (ACC Network.

“I think with the the setup of the tournament, with it being a little bit more condensed, it will be a little bit different for all of the teams,” Krikorian said. “Probably a smart move, though, with all the COVID stuff and being on the road and staying in hotels for long stretches of time.”

The 2020 ACC Tournament is closed to the public. All quarterfinal and semifinals matches will be on the ACC Network with the ACC Championship on ESPNU at Noon on Sunday.

Krikorian has been asked frequently about the prospect of a spring season as well as an NCAA Tournament. While one has not been established by the NCAA, he thinks a large group of the 2020 team (especially the seniors) would be on campus to play games in the spring.