FSU soccer advances to title game

Florida State is on to the championship game — behind a second-half goal and a flurry of late saves.

Jenna Nighswonger’s corner kick in the 72nd minute was initially deflected but it went right toward Jaelin Howell, who had a wide-open shot at close range and found the net in the Seminoles’ 1-0 win over Rutgers. It was Howell’s third goal of the season.

Sophomore keeper Cristina Roque stopped a barrage of second-half shots, although it was officially recorded as only four saves, to secure the win for FSU. Roque hadn’t been tested that much in the postseason but came through on the big stage of the College Cup.

“Cristina came up huge,” FSU coach Mark Krikorian said. “She made a couple of point-blank saves and showed great courage, agility and quickness. Had she not been quite as sharp in goal all of a sudden it would have been a much different game.”

It was FSU’s 13th shutout of the fall season.

The Seminoles (21-1-2) will face BYU, which defeated defending national champion Santa Clara on penalty kicks late Friday night. FSU and BYU face off on Monday at 8 p.m. (ESPNU).

FSU has won two national titles (2014 and ’18) and is in the College Cup for the 11th time.

Howell played on the 2018 championship team and was just minutes away from another ring in May. Another shot at a title is why she came back this fall.

“Our standard is always the national championship, to compete for the national championship,” Howell said. “Anything short, that’s not acceptable to us. It’s always special getting back to a national championship (game). We don’t take it for granted. We’ve worked our butts off and we’re ready to compete.”