Playing from behind at home hasn’t been a familiar position for the Florida State soccer team this season.
An opening goal from South Florida handed the Seminoles just their third home deficit in 14 matches this season.
Just a few minutes later, No. 1 FSU (17-4-2) equalized and rallied for a 3-1 victory over the No. 20 Bulls (15-4) in second-round play of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship Friday before a crowd of 1,368 at the Seminole Soccer Complex.
“We feel very fortunate that we’re able to continue and advance in the tournament having played a very good opponent,” FSU head coach Mark Krikorian said.
“At the end of the day, I thought our kids competed very favorably.”
The Seminoles advance into Sunday’s Round of 16 against No. 9 Southern California (17-2-2) at 1 p.m. USC beat No. 19 LSU 2-0 earlier Friday.
FSU and USC played to a double-overtime scoreless draw in August.
FSU is the only host site for the NCAA second and third rounds that has all four teams ranked in the Top 25 of the current United Soccer Coaches Poll.
USF entered the match against FSU averaging 2.84 goals per game — the most in the country — on 17.4 shots and 8.3 shots on target per game.
Thanks in large part to a strong possession-centric attack, FSU held USF to a goal on two shots on goal and four total shots.
“I thought, for the most part, we were pretty confident with the ball, pretty composed on the ball, created some very nice scoring chances,” Krikorian said.
Added USF defender Chyanne Dennis, “Their offense was outstanding, honestly. I give them credit.”
USF opened the scoring in the 35th minute on a ball placed perfectly into the corner of the net from junior forward Aubrey Megrath, her ninth of the season.
It was the Bulls’ only shot on target of the first half and snapped FSU’s home NCAA Tournament shutout streak at 1,224 minutes and 16 seconds.
The previous two home deficits both ended as 1-0 losses, but FSU wasted no time breaking that trend and equalizing.
Six minutes after falling behind, FSU tied the game.
Sophomore midfielder Gabby Carle made an impressive cut to get behind the defense and centered a cross on the ground into the box from the end line.
Her cross found the foot of senior forward Dallas Dorosy, who tapped it in for her fifth goal of the season and 18th of her career.
“Scoring before the half ended, I think helped us a lot,” Dorosy said.
“Knowing that we had to score before the half, we just worked hard for each other and that’s what resulted in the first goal.”
While USF scored first, the Seminoles controlled the ball more and dominated the first-half chances.
FSU outshot USF nine to three in the first half and had five corners in the opening 45 minutes to the Bulls’ one.
The Seminoles maintained that momentum out of half and controlled the possession for the vast majority of the second half.
“I found that quite difficult that they were able to possess the ball as much as they did,” USF head coach Denise Schilte-Brown said.
“In every other game this season, we’ve had the ball more than the opponent. The Seminoles turned that tight on us and it was difficult.”
FSU nearly took the lead in the 54th minute when Carle again found plentiful space down the sideline, but her dangerous cross failed to find a Seminole and was cleared near the end line by a USF defender.
The go-ahead goal finally came in the 63rd minute. An impressive series of passes led to a point-blank look for freshman midfielder Yujie Zhao.
Zhao’s original shot was saved, but it bounced back off her body and into the net for her seventh goal of the season.
Zhao and Kirsten Pavlisko assisted on the goal by Gloriana Villalobos in the 86th minute that iced the game for the Seminoles.
It was an especially chippy game between the two sides. Two USF players were given yellow cards in the first half and the Bulls were called for 18 of the game’s 24 fouls.
“We knew before coming in that they were going to be a physical team. I think we were prepared for that,” Carle said.
“I think we delivered and were as physical as they were.”
With the victory, the Seminoles improve to 42-1-0 all-time in home NCAA Tournament matches and are through to the Round of 16 for the 13th time in the last 14 years.
No. 1 FSU vs. No. 4 USC
NCAA Tournament Third Round
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
Where: Seminole Soccer Complex