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National champs: FSU claims title on PKs

Florida State felt the heartbreak in May of missing out on a national championship on penalty kicks.

On Monday night, the Seminoles’ sophomore keeper came up with the big stops — and her teammates made the big kicks, too.

Cristina Roque made two stops in the penalty kick period to lift the FSU soccer team to a 4-3 decision over BYU on penalty kicks in Santa Clara, Calif., as the program won its third national title.

“I feel like everyone is behind me no matter which way it goes just how last year it didn’t just go our way and everyone was behind me then,” Roque said. “I knew whatever happened this year they were going to be behind me. I’m not gonna lie it does feel better here.”

Clara Robbins, Heather Payne, Jaelin Howell and Yujie Zhao connected in penalty kicks, with Zhao’s kick to the left post and beyond the outstretched arms of BYU keeper Cassidy Smith clinching the title.

“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 PKs,” Zhao said.

In May, FSU was just minutes away from claiming the national title but a late Santa Clara goal forced overtime and the Seminoles lost on penalty kicks. Now, ironically on Santa Clara’s home field, FSU captured its third title.

“Feels quite nice to be sitting on this side of it,” FSU coach Mark Krikorian said. “Last year (rescheduled College Cup in May), I thought that we were quite good and we had some unfinished business that we needed to address and proud of the team, the staff.”

FSU and BYU played the full 90 minutes as well as two 10-minute overtime periods to a scoreless tie. Roque, a sophomore, had five saves in the 110 minutes.

The Seminoles (22-1-2) lost just one match, at Duke in October. They finished the season with nine straight wins, including victories over top-15 teams like Virginia, Michigan, Rutgers and BYU.

FSU has won national titles in 2014, ’18 and ’21. Howell, Zhao and Gabby Carle are among the veterans who returned to help FSU win a title in their senior seasons.

The Seminoles are now tied with Notre Dame and Stanford for second on the all-time list for most championships. Only North Carolina has won more NCAA women’s soccer national championships as