FSU soccer battle-tested for start of ACC play

Florida State already plays in arguably the nation’s top soccer conference.

Mark Krikorian makes sure that the Seminoles are ready by playing the toughest non-conference games he can schedule. And this year, he may have risen to his own personal challenge of preparing the Seminoles for what they will face in the next six weeks.

FSU has played No. 2 USC and No. 3 UCLA on the road as well as playing host to Florida. While the No. 6 Seminoles lost both games on the West Coast, they have learned through the valuable competition as well as fighting back from a deficit to defeat the Gators.

“We’re in a good spot,” Krikorian said. “I said it to the team the other day and it’s certainly what I feel that I’m not sure we’ve ever put together a more rigorous out-of-conference schedule. We’ve played a lot of very good teams and been challenged in a lot of different ways and continue to learn about ourselves but we know that in this next segment we’re going to learn and continue to grow and get better.”

Next up for FSU (6-2) is the start of ACC competition against Boston College (7-0-1) on Thursday. The game starts at 7 p.m. And if you can’t make it to the Seminole Soccer Complex, the game will air nationally on ACC Network.

What follows between now and the end of the regular season in October will be 10 ACC teams against some of the nation’s best. FSU will face No. 1 Virginia, No. 4 UNC, No. 8 Duke, No. 10 Clemson and No. 18 Virginia Tech between now and Halloween.

FSU feels like the non-conference experience can only help over the long haul.

“It pays off a lot,” sophomore Jaelin Howell said. “Playing great teams like UCLA, USC, even though we come out losing against those teams, we learn a lot. We grow as a team, even when we play against Florida and we go down a goal, we grow a lot as a team. When we go into conference play, and later on this season, we’re prepared for situations like that.”

First up is BC, which has a sparkling record and has only a 1-1 tie with Providence. The Eagles are led by Sam Smith, who has five goals and one assist. Allie Auguar leads BC with three shutouts in seven games, while only allowing three goals.

Krikorian is optimistic about the depth that the Seminoles have developed early in the season, notably helped by the return of three players from injuries.

“I think that one of the things that we’re clearly seeing is we have some pretty good players coming off the bench,” Krikorian said. “Those kids are coming in and they’re starting to grow into the team. (Kristina) Lynch, (Clara) Robbins and Leilanni (Nesbith) have all been coming back from pretty significant injuries and I think all of them are starting to show the form that we need them to be in as we get into the conference part of the schedule and then beyond.”

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