The Seminoles outshot the Ramblers 26-2 and put up their 13th consecutive home NCAA Tournament shutout.
Curt Weiler, Tallahassee Democrat
Dominant defensive performance may be an understatement.
The Florida State soccer team nearly held its opponent without a shot for the second time in NCAA Tournament history.
With 760 fans watching inside the Seminole Soccer Complex, the top-seeded Seminoles (16-4-2) outshot the Loyola Chicago Ramblers (11-7-1) 26 to two on the way to a 1-0 win in their NCAA Tournament opener.
The Ramblers were held without a shot until the 84th minute and it was just the third time this season they had been shut out.
“I think that a lot of our quality in defending was based on quality in attack. We were able to get a hold of the ball and share the ball among our team and pass the ball around,” FSU head coach Mark Krikorian said.
“When you have the ball, you don’t have to defend as much and I’d say over the course of the 90 minutes, we did a pretty good job of keeping the ball and passing the ball, limiting their chances on goal.”
After a scoreless first half despite an array of scoring chances, sophomore defender Anna Patten put FSU on the board in the 52nd minute as she curled a shot from just inside the 18-yard box into the corner of the net.
“The ball went wide to (Gloriana Villalobos) and I went to support her. I knew I had space on the edge of the box so when the ball came to me I just wanted to take my chance, have a shot,” Patten said of her goal.
It was Patten’s fourth goal of the season and Villalobos’ third assist.
Loyola’s defense sat back and proved to difficult to break down as the Seminoles finished the first half with 19 shots, eight corner kicks and seven shots on target over the opening 45 minutes.
For every strong FSU chance, there was an goal line stop by either goalkeeper Kate Moran or one of the Loyola defenders.
“We weren’t naive coming in. We know how good they were, that they were going to have the ball a lot,” Loyola head coach Barry Bimbi said.
“What are you going to do in those crucial moments? For 99 out of those 100 moments, the girls stood tall and battled.”
Some of the Seminoles’ early chances included a 16th-minute rocket from Deyna Castellanos that was knocked down by Moran and a corner kick from Castellanos that was dropped by Moran into play.
Both loose balls in the box created chances, but no FSU player was in position to score on either close call.
“It’s always hard when teams sit off us and they put a lot of players behind and we create a lot of chances,” Patten said.
“We’ll work on that and take that forward.”
Moran finished the match with eight saves as she spent nearly all of the 90 minutes under pressure from the FSU attack.
FSU’s starting goalkeeper Brooke Bollinger was held out of Friday’s match after she suffered an injury in the ACC Championship Game against North Carolina.
This moved redshirt junior Caroline Jeffers into the starting lineup for just her fourth appearance and second start this season.
Although FSU was forced to use its backup in net, she was never really tested as her only save came in the 84th minute.
A header from Loyola’s Jenna Szczesna was directed at Jeffers, who caught the shot for an easy save.
10 different Seminoles recorded a shot, but junior Deyna Castellanos’ output stands out.
Her nine shots were tied for the most by an FSU player in NCAA Tournament history, matching the previous record held by Sanna Talonen and Dagny Brynjarsdottir.
With the win, the Seminoles have won their opening NCAA Tournament match for the 14th straight year and 18th time in its streak of 19 consecutive appearances.
It’s also FSU’s 13th consecutive home shutout in the NCAA Tournament, a shutout streak that is now at 1,190 minutes and two seconds.
FSU will next face the winner of Saturday’s South Florida-Albany match in the second round.
That match will be played Friday, Nov. 16 in Tallahassee.