No. 1 Noles Shutout No. 17 UConn

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For the 25th consecutive time, No. 1 Florida State (4-1-0) closed out a match at the Seminole Soccer Complex without a loss, earning a 3-0 shutout of No. 17 UConn (5-2-0) on Thursday night in front of 1,458 fans. The streak sits as the second-longest home unbeaten streak in school history, trailing the stretch of 37 matches that was set during the 2011 to 2014 seasons.

“Coming out and having a good, solid, strong performance was the most important thing, and I thought we did that,” said FSU head coach Mark Krikorian. “We came out and established a nice tempo in the attack with three goals from a variety of different ways, which was nice and created a lot of different opportunities.

“It feels great to be home and great to have that crowd out here cheering our group on. We’re pretty good on the road, but we are really good at home and we love the crowd and the excitement. We have a beautiful field and a beautiful night and it is nice to be here.”

Kaycie Tillman got the Noles on the board as the match neared the halftime whistle, slotting home a shot from eight yards at 43:39. Elin Jensen posted her first assist of the season, finding Tillman near the penalty spot on a pass from the left side, allowing the sophomore to give FSU a 1-0 lead on her first goal of the season.

Overall in the first half, the Seminoles maintained pressure on the Huskies, outshooting UConn 8-2 in the opening 45 minutes and earning seven corners. Heidi Kollanen had a nice scoring opportunity with chip pass in the 16th minute that bounced over UConn goalkeeper Emily Armstrong, but as the Noles scrambled to the ball, they were ruled offside.

In the 20th minute, Natalia Kuikka took the ball down the left, sending a pass to Kollanen near the penalty box. The freshman forward flicked the ball behind her to Deyna Castellanos at the penalty spot, but her controlling touch off her knee bounced up and accidentally hit her hand, giving the ball to UConn.

In the second half, both teams worked for possession and there were not many scoring opportunities with only two shots taken in the first 20 minutes after halftime.

Macayla Edwards stopped the drought with the first goal of her career in the 66th minute, firing a strike from the top of the penalty box on an assist from Tillman on the right side. As Tillman developed the play, both Castellanos and Megan Connolly made aggressive runs, drawing the defenders away, allowing Edwards to make it 2-0 FSU.

The Noles quickly added another goal in the 69th minute, as Castellanos recorded her fourth goal of the season. Edwards sent a long ball from midfield to Jensen on the left side and the sophomore midfielder played the ball nicely off the side of her foot to control and press toward the goal. Castellanos worked her way open at the top of the 18, and received the ball with two defenders and the goalkeeper approaching. The freshman stepped on the ball, changed direction, allowing the opponents to slide past and free up space to easily shoot the ball into the net for a 3-0 Seminole lead.

The Huskies continued to fight through the final 20 minutes of the match, but stellar defensive plays from the Noles protected the clean sheet. Shortly after FSU’s third goal, UConn’s Rachel Hill found space on the left side by herself before Kirsten Crowley closed the gap and had a nice slide tackle to take the ball off her and end the threat.

Crowley again saved a scoring chance in the 75th minute as Stephanie Ribeiro and Hill were on a counterattack and the redshirt senior defender elected to leave Hill, attack the passing lane and dove to intercept the through ball attempt.

Hill and Ribeiro combined for a late scoring opportunity in the 86th minute as Hill’s pass from the left found Ribeiro near the penalty spot. Her controlling touch enabled her to spin around her defender but her shot was blocked by the outstretched leg of FSU freshman Taylor Hallmon. Hill later added a shot from outside the box that was saved by Cassie Miller in the 87th minute, the only shot on goal by UConn for the game.

The Noles finished with a 13-6 advantage in shots, 6-1 in shots on goal and 8-2 in corners. It is the second win over a ranked team this season and the 18th since the start of the 2014 season.

FSU will host Troy in a match at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 11 to close out the weekend. FSU and Troy have only met once before, with the Noles earning an 8-0 victory over the Trojans in Tallahassee on September 12, 2007.