The Seminoles rallied from a deficit at home to win for the first time this season in Friday’s win over the Bulls.
Curt Weiler, Tallahassee Democrat
Since the NCAA Tournament bracket was unveiled, the Florida State and Southern California soccer teams have been on a collision course.
The two teams will meet inside the Seminole Soccer Complex Sunday at 1 p.m. and this time a victor must be determined with a spot in the Elite Eight on the line.
The No. 5 Seminoles (17-4-2) and the No. 6 Trojans (17-2-2) played to a scoreless double-overtime draw in Tallahassee back on August 31.
It’s the Seminoles’ only scoreless draw in 23 matches this season.
“I think they’re a really good team, they have a lot of good players, their coaching is outstanding. I think anyone that’s able to come here is going to be treated to a very, very high-level, good game of soccer,” FSU head coach Mark Krikorian said.
“I have a great deal of respect for what they’re doing in their program, for the way they play and the quality that they bring and we’re going to look forward to hosting them in another very good game, much like the one that occurred here earlier in the year.”
That early-season matchup saw FSU as the stronger side that was closer to breaking onto the scoreboard.
The Seminoles outshot the Trojans 18 to 6 and had six shots on goal to USC’s one.
The best chance of the match came in double overtime when FSU defender Malia Berkely hit the crossbar from distance in the 108th minute.
FSU leads the all-time series over the Trojans 3-2-1. The only previous matchup between the two teams in the NCAA Tournament was a 2-0 USC win in the 2007 National Championship in College Station, Texas.
This time FSU plays as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament while USC is a No. 4 seed.
It came as a surprise to many that the Trojans were given a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They won 15 of their 19 games through the Pac-12 Tournament and both of their losses came in overtime.
Additionally, three of the team’s four non-wins came against teams currently ranked in the top five of the United Soccer Coaches Poll.
They lacked some of the quality wins that teams like FSU had, but a No. 4 seed came as a surprise for a team that spent a large portion of the season as a top-five team.
“I don’t know if there’s anyone in the soccer community that’s not a little bit surprised that Southern Cal’s not a higher seed than a four,” Krikorian said.
“I think it’s going to be a great matchup.”
Although these two teams met earlier this season, the teams will look quite a bit different when they face off again Sunday, simply due to the growth each team’s young contributors have undergone as the season has played out.
“Both teams have really grown. Both teams are much better now than we were earlier this season,” Krikorian said.
“I think many of our young players have really grown into their roles and they’re playing at a high level. I’d say that’s true of the Southern Cal kids also.
“It’s going to be a Round of 16 game that could easily be a Final Four game.”
No. 5 Florida State vs. No. 6 USC
NCAA Tournament Third Round
When: Today, 1 p.m.
Where: Seminole Soccer Complex
TV: WatchESPN (Online)