FSU soccer routs SMU, advances to Sweet 16

Florida State had little trouble advancing to the Sweet 16 with a dominating performance in the NCAA Tournament.

Yujie Zhao and Jody Brown scored first-half goals, while Beata Olsson added her 13th goal early in the second half as FSU cruised to a 5-1 win over SMU in a second-round match on Friday night before a crowd of 1,504 fans at the Seminole Soccer Complex.

“I thought our kids competed very, very well,” FSU coach Mark Krikorian said. “And certainly we’re committed to the fight and we’re thrilled to be moving on. At this stage of the season that it gets hard and the margins start to shrink. I thought that our kids battled and did a good job through the course of the game.”

No. 1 seed FSU (18-1-2) advances to play Pepperdine (17-3-1) in the Sweet 16 on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Waves defeated NC State 3-0.

Zhao scored first in the 22nd minute, striking a free kick from just outside the box and hitting the left post before it ricocheted into the net and past the outstretched hands of SMU keeper Samantha Estrada.

“It was pretty much unsavable,” SMU coach Chris Petrucelli said. “I think Sam got a hand on it but it was pretty much unsavable.”

In the 28th minute, Brown raced past a pair of SMU defenders and put the ball past Estrada.

“Jenna just played the ball through and I just ran on to it,” Brown said. “Their defender, I think they stopped. So I just kept running.”

In the second half, Olsson was able to dribble right and beyond Estrada, who left the box to challenge, before Olsson was able to finish it into an empty net — her 13th goal of the season. Gabby Carle added a fourth goal, from just outside the box.

SMU’s Lindsey Whitmore added a goal with nine minutes to go to make it 4-1, although the Seminoles quickly countered on Kristina Lynch’s goal. The Mustangs’ season ended at 12-5-2.

Petrucelli praised FSU’s program.

“The overall quality of the program is really impressive,” Petrucelli said. “And it’s not just the soccer. The soccer is great. But it’s a classy group of people. When you come into these environments and you want to create a a hate for the other team and we just couldn’t do it. Just too nice. They were just too nice. And I just don’t have enough good things to say about about the program and what Mark’s done. It is the the epitome of everything that’s right about college soccer, and I hope they win it all.”

Given an early lead, Krikorian was able to substitute frequently and rest players for a short turnaround on Sunday.

“I think our depth over the course of the game made a big difference for us,” Krikorian said. “That was certainly part of the the plan in the second half after we got the third goal. We certainly did try and give a lot of kids a lot of minutes and try and save some legs for other players knowing that Sunday will be a tough game and who knows what the weather will be if it becomes Florida again. Probably heat up a little bit and and that may be a factor for us as well playing in the middle of the day.”

The Seminoles are 19-2 all-time in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. FSU also improved to 49-2-1 in NCAA Tournament games in Tallahassee.

Sunday’s game will stream live on ACC Network Extra.