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FSU Soccer aims to knock off defending national champ Stanford

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All-American midfielder Yujie Zhao and the rest of the Seminoles will take on No. 1 Stanford on Friday evening.

Larry Novey/FSU Sports Info

The Stanford Cardinal soccer program is currently riding a 45-match unbeaten streak.

If the Florida State Seminoles are going to bring home another national championship trophy, it can’t get to 46.

The two national powers face off in the NCAA tournament semifinals on Friday night (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU) in the College Cup in Cary, N.C. The winner will take on the Georgetown-North Carolina winner on Sunday afternoon in the national championship match.

“If you look at Stanford’s roster, it is just one top level player after the next, and their bench is fantastic also, along with some very, very good coaches,” said FSU head coach Mark Krikorian. “Their soccer program has set a bar over the last couple of years that all of us are trying to reach, and we are looking forward to Friday night.”

The Seminoles, of course, aren’t too shabby themselves. And they’ve made a habit of knocking off former national champions in this tournament already. They beat 2016 champ USC in the third round and 2015 champion Penn State in the fourth round.

They certainly have the firepower, and the experience, to knock off the 2017 champion as well. Which is why Krikorian loaded his regular-season schedule with quality opponents, even though he knew many of his key contributors would miss significant time this fall playing for their respective national teams.

Well, the Seminoles (18-4-3) are at full strength now. They’ve won seven straight matches — including six over ranked opponents — since losing to Miami, 1-0, on Oct. 25.

If they’re going to capture the program’s second national championship, they’ll have to win two more, starting on Friday night with the No. 1 Cardinal (21-0-2).

“Over the course of the season, we’ve played a fantastic schedule with an awful lot of really good teams,” Krikorian said. “We are certainly familiar with the facility up there, as we were up there a few weeks ago (for the ACC Tournament) and played a couple of big games on that field.

“It is another opportunity for the team to go out and compete against a great team and measure ourselves.”

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