The Florida State women’s soccer team is in familiar territory – the Elite Eight.
But for the defending champions to get back to the Women’s College Cup, the Seminoles will have to also get through a familiar opponent. FSU and UCLA faced off on Aug. 29 in Los Angeles, with the Bruins taking a 2-1 win.
FSU (18-5-0) and UCLA (17-4-1) will play on Friday at 2 p.m. at the Seminole Soccer Complex for a spot in the final four of college soccer. The game will also stream live on ACC Network Extra.
“They’re loaded with national team players,” FSU coach Mark Krikorian said. “They have good players all over the field. They play an attractive style of soccer. I’m sure the fans are going to get treated to a really good game.”
FSU is in the Elite Eight for the 13th time in Krikorian’s 15 seasons at the school. That’s the most in the NCAA during that time period – yes, more than North Carolina, Virginia, Stanford or any of the other top programs in the sport.
The Seminoles must now get past a talented UCLA team that features Ashley Sanchez (seven goals, 14 assists), Mia Fishel (12 goals, two assists) and Viviana Villacorta (three goals, seven assists). Goalkeeper Teagan Micah has allowed 0.64 goals and is 14-3-1 in 2019.
“I’ve had a chance to watch a number of their games as the season has gone on,” Krikorian said. “They have done a great job of improving through the course of the season. Anyone that has watched us now compared how to we were earlier in the year (would say) we’re a significantly different team today than we were two months ago.”
FSU is led by forward Deyna Castellanos, who has 12 goals and 11 assists. Kristen McFarland has been a spark in the postseason, recording nine goals in 2019. Caroline Jeffers also has a 15-5 record, allowing 1.12 goals per game on average.
Castellanos, one of the most heralded players in the sport, will be playing her final home game at FSU.
“Playing here for the past four years has been amazing,” Castellanos said. “I haven’t played on a field better than this one. Playing at home before the College Cup is very important, very exciting.”
If FSU defeats UCLA, the Seminoles would be headed to the College Cup for an 11th time (all of them since 2003).
FRIDAY’S ELITE EIGHT GAMES
UCLA AT Florida State, 2 p.m.
North Carolina vs. Southern California, 6 p.m.
South Carolina vs. Washington State, 6 p.m.
Stanford vs. BYU, 6 p.m.
The complete bracket can be viewed in PDF format here