Postseason experience invaluable to FSU soccer

Experience matters in the postseason. Florida State has found that to be valuable in many of its recent runs to the College Cup, the final four of women’s soccer.

FSU has lost just once this fall, at No. 6 Duke on Oct. 24. The Seminoles then battled Virginia to a 1-1 tie in a matchup of the nation’s top teams, but in the weeks since FSU knocked off the Cavaliers in the ACC Tournament title game and shredded South Alabama in the NCAA Tournament first-round game.

“I think we have a lot of experience,” FSU coach Mark Krikorian said. “And some of these teams that went out a little bit early I think may be young teams. I don’t think any of us have a full appreciation yet of how that COVID year of soccer has affected all of the teams and all the players.”

Again the nation’s No. 1 team, and with the luxury of playing at home throughout the NCAA postseason leading up to the College Cup, the Seminoles have been quite dominant with 10 shutouts this fall. FSU is 48-2-1 in program history in the NCAA Tournament at the Seminole Soccer Complex, although that does include a quarterfinal loss to UCLA in 2019.

Krikorian thinks FSU as well as the ACC schools remaining could have an edge due to playing a fall 2020 season as well as a spring season leading up to the COVID-delayed NCAA Tournament in May. A number of West Coast schools opted to shut down a number of Olympics sports in the fall of 2020. 

If anything, the Seminoles’ run to the College Cup in May prompted Krikorian to insist on players taking rest time in the summer to recharge for the start of the fall season in August.

“Those kids on the West Coast, they had it much different than those of us over the Southeast,” Krikorian said.

FSU will play SMU (12-4-2) on Friday at 5 p.m. (live stream on ACC Network Extra). The Mustangs are coming off a 2-0 win over No. 21 Texas, a victory Krikorian called a masterpiece for SMU. 

“They’re going to be organized, they are going to be disciplined,” Krikorian said. “They have a nice combination of technical players and good athletes.”

FSU’s team is deep and, yes, quite experienced with eight seniors and two juniors. Emily Madril was picked the ACC’s defensive player of the year, and Jaelin Howell was selected as the midfielder of the year. Yujie Zhao was named to the All-ACC first team for a fourth straight season. Beata Olsson has 12 goals, while Jody Brown has 10 assists.

NC State and Pepperdine will face off in an earlier game at 2 p.m. in Tallahassee. If the Seminoles defeat SMU, they will face the NC State-Pepperdine winner on Sunday. A printable NCAA women’s soccer bracket is available here.