FSU follows UNC soccer’s path to excellence

Florida State coach Mark Krikorian patterned his program in many regards after North Carolina, which was an annual contender (and often winner) of national titles in women’s soccer with 21 championships from 1982-2012.

While not up to those lofty standards, the Seminoles have enjoyed quite the run over the last decade with eight ACC titles and eight College Cup appearances since 2011.

“I don’t know that anyone has been able to or will ever be able to duplicate what it is that they created, their excellence for 20-something years, that was a great example for us to look at and say, ‘Ok, this is what we want to try and be and this is how we’re going to try and go about our business,’ “ said Krikorian, who guided the Seminoles to national titles in 2014 and ’18. “For us, I’m so grateful and thankful that there was and is a UNC soccer because it did show us that you can be consistently excellent if you are doing things in the proper fashion for you.”

Krikorian admitted that he’s in the moment and it’s hard to be reflective. But it’s also hard to ignore that FSU is the only ACC team in this weekend’s College Cup. The Seminoles (20-1-2) will face Rutgers (19-3-2) on Friday in one semifinal at 7 p.m. (ESPNU), while host Santa Clara will play BYU (9:30 p.m. on ESPNU).

FSU was just minutes away from claiming a national title in May, as Santa Clara instead tied it up and then won on penalty kicks in an NCAA Tournament that was rescheduled due to COVID. The Seminoles returned this fall with the majority of the spring roster in place and were strengthened by Florida transfer Beata Olsson, who scored 14 goals.

The Seminoles have allowed just two goals in the postseason, one to Wake Forest in the ACC Tournament and another to SMU. In between, FSU has recorded shutouts of then-No. 1 Virginia to claim the ACC title as well as No. 19 Pepperdine (1-0) and No. 9 Michigan (1-0 in overtime) to reach the College Cup.

“I’m certainly proud of what we accomplished,” Krikorian said. “I think that it’s difficult to maintain the level of excellence that we’ve had. As everyone in sport says it’s not easy to win and it’s not easy to win consistently, it’s not easy to win at the level that we have for a long time, but the job’s not done.”

Rutgers is led by midfielder Frankie Tagliaferri (13 goals) and forward Riley Tiernan (13 assists). Keeper Meagan McClelland has nine shutouts and a 0.67 goals against average. Tagliaferri (midfielder), Gabby Provenzano (defender) and Tiernan (freshman) were all honored as the best in the Big Ten.

“It’s hard to find words to express what it feels like to be going to the Final Four,” Rutgers defender Allison Lynch said. “This team has worked so incredibly hard and have always left everything out there for each other. To know we’re adding to the great culture of all the amazing teams that paved the way is just an unreal feeling,”

This is the first meeting between FSU and Rutgers, although Krikorian said “I’ve been friends with their coach (Mike O’Neill) for what seems like 100 years.”

Three named All-Americans

The Florida State soccer team has three student-athletes named All-Americans by the United Soccer Coaches. Jaelin Howell and Emily Madril were named First Team All-Americans, and Yujie Zhao was named to the second team. It was Zhao’s third All-American honor and Howell and Madril’s second.

Madril’s All-American honor makes her the Seminoles’ 22nd First Team All-American in program history and Howell became Florida State’s sixth two-time First Team All-American. With three All-Americans in 2021, FSU has earned 54 all-time All-American accolades. 

Carle honored by NCAA

FSU defender Gabby Carle has been selected as the 2021 Senior CLASS Award® winner in NCAA® Division I women’s soccer. The award, chosen by a vote of Division I women’s soccer coaches, national soccer media and fans, is given annually to the most outstanding senior student-athlete in Division I women’s soccer.

An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior or graduate student and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: classroom, community, character, and competition.

“Being a student-athlete at FSU helped me become a better leader and taught me how to live a balanced life,” said Carle, the fourth Seminole to win the Senior CLASS Award. “I conclude my career at Florida State feeling well prepared for what’s ahead, and I thank everyone who has helped me along the way.”