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Virginia women’s soccer faces No. 1 Florida State in NCAA semifinals

A spot in the title game is on the line.

Virginia Media Relations (Matt Riley)

Thursday night, the unseeded Virginia women’s soccer team squares off against a familiar foe in the NCAA tournament semifinals. The Hoos used a Lizzy Sieracki goal to dispatch No. 4 seed TCU in the quarterfinals and will now see No. 1 Florida State at 6pm.

The Cavaliers and Seminoles met once in the fall, with FSU taking a narrow 4-3 victory. Each team was credited with an own goal in the game, and Alexa Spaanstra and Diana Ordoñez scored the other two goals for the Hoos. An 81st minute score from FSU’s Clara Robbins ended up being the deciding score in what could only be classified a thrilling game.

“That was an interesting game a lot of ways,” Virginia head coach Steve Swanson said of the fall matchup. “They’re a very complete team, meaning they attack very well [and] possess the ball very well. But they’re not just a possession oriented team. They penetrate quite well, and they’re very good defensively.”

The Seminoles enter tonight’s game with a 13-0-1 record. They got a bye for the first round as the No. 1 seed, then took out Milwaukee and Penn State to reach the quarterfinals. In the quarters, the Seminoles needed penalty kicks to dispatch Duke to make the College Cup.

“Florida State’s been remarkably consistent all year, and they deserve a ton of credit,” Swanson stated. “I think they’ve managed to do a great job of dealing with COVID and also dealing with the games that have come up. They’ve been remarkably consistent from the first game to the last.”

Virginia has had to face some very different challenges over the course of this year’s tournament. Against SIUE, the Hoos had to play from behind after letting up a first-half goal. The BYU Cougars came into the game as one of the best scoring teams in the country before running into Laurel Ivory and the Virginia defense. The Cavaliers found open space to operate in a 3-0 win over Rice. In the game against TCU, Virginia faced a talented squad that attempted to poke and probe the defense with long runs and speed.

All four games have helped prepare the Hoos for their latest battle, Swanson said. “That’s been helpful for us, though, because we’ve had to adjust, and we’ve had to adapt not only to what we needed to do, but — obviously — to what our opponent’s strengths are. I think those those [games] have helped us a lot.”

This is Virginia’s first trip to the College Cup since 2014, a season where the Hoos fell 1-0 to the Noles in the regular season, ACC championship, and NCAA title game. Over the last seven seasons, only two games played between the two have been decided by more than one goal.

It’s shaping up to be a fun night in Cary.

How to Watch

When: Thursday, May 13, at 6pm
Channel: ESPN2
Streaming: WatchESPN