On Nov. 5, the Florida State University women’s soccer team took on Clemson University in the ACC Championship game. With a final score of 2-1, the Seminoles took the win, adding another title to the long list of wins they’ve been building this season and in the preceding years. With another dub under their belt, the Noles have a chance to win it all and take home the NCAA Championship title, but do they have what it takes?
It’s no secret that the FSU women’s soccer team has had a complete and utterly dominant season. With a record of 16-0-1, they hold the #1 ranking among women’s college soccer teams in the nation, and this feat is no surprise. The team is filled with star-studded athletes ranging from players featured in the World Cup to All-ACC Team accolade winners. Their skill is present on the field with the purposeful movement of the ball and impressive finishes in the goal. They have yet to lose a game entering the tournament, but it’s important to consider that there are teams that the Noles have yet to face that could jeopardize this streak.
Looking at who the Noles have yet to face, their first competitor is the at-large selection team of Morehead State, a team they are nearly guaranteed a win against. As for FSU’s quarter bracket, there don’t appear to be any high-level threats for the Noles other than the SEC-Championship runner-up, University of Arkansas. There is also a chance at a rematch against the University of Pittsburg, which the Seminoles have already beaten twice, once 3-2 and more recently 2-0.
Looking back on past NCAA Championship winners (among Florida State being a typical contender in the final two), UCLA, Stanford University, and the University of North Carolina have also made recent repeat appearances at the finals, making them obvious threats to the Noles as well. Coupled with their high rankings among the NCAA, it is very likely that FSU may have a match against these historically impressive soccer programs.
I am particularly interested to see a rematch of FSU vs. North Carolina, as FSU tied the former No. 1 ranked team early in the season with a score of 3-3, which was only made possible because of a goal made by the Noles with ten seconds left in the game. North Carolina is arguably the toughest competitor the team has faced all season, so a tie against them is admirable. Another interesting matchup would be against Texas Tech University, currently ranked No. 4. They may also be a tough competitor for the Noles if they are to get through BYU or North Carolina in their respective quarter of the bracket.
Besides the bracket itself, another critical factor to look at is the gameplay of the Noles. Even though it has been acknowledged that FSU contains obvious talent, they have a pattern of the scoreboard not always reflecting such skill early on. In nearly every game this season, the Seminoles have entered half-time with a score of 0-0, making the first half feel almost futile. As a spectator, it makes the second half that much more exciting and crucial. However, for the team itself, I can’t imagine this pattern is a part of any sort of strategic play. This gameplay may not fare well against other teams who are able to score early on. They have the advantage of riding the momentum of such goals, which the Noles have only been able to do in the second half.
With their win over Morehead State this past Friday, the Noles’ next opponent is most likely going to be Texas A&M University, which will be an exciting rematch after the Noles beat the Aggies 2-1 in the preseason. In three weeks, the championship final is to take place in Cary, North Carolina. The tournament is looking to be an exciting one that will hopefully end with the Seminoles on top. Although I have full confidence that FSU has what it takes to win it all, I can’t help but worry about the teams that they have yet to face. Still, with the promising season they’ve had, the Noles are sure to make it far and hopefully earn their fourth NCAA Championship title.
The Noles’ next matchup is at home on Nov. 17. For more info, click here.