Seminoles Come Up One Win Short.
The 3-2 win over Notre Dame was a relief, of sorts, since the Seminoles had previously been 0-4 in College Cup appearances.
A year ago it had been the Irish that had ended the Seminoles’ season.
But they don’t pass out trophies after semifinal games. Coach Mark Krikorian and his players are well aware of that, and they soon put their 18th victory of the season behind them.
Perhaps they thought they had caught a break when the University of Southern California beat UCLA, 2-1, in the other semifinal. After all, USC had lost 11 straight games to their crosstown rival.
By Sunday afternoon in College Station, TX, the Seminoles found out that the Trojans certainly deserved to be there.
In fact, it was USC that dominated much of the action, putting together a goal in each half, and winning their first-ever Division I women’s national soccer championship.
Neither USC or FSU had ever been to the title game before. In fact, USC had never before advanced past the second round of the NCAAs.
Marihelen Tomer scored midway through the first half for the game’s first score, and Janessa Currier made it 2-0 with 15 minutes left in the game. The victory made USC only the seventh school to win a Division I women’s soccer championship.
“I can appreciate that some days you’re up and some days you’re not, and it was not our day,” said Krikorian. “A lot of that certainly goes to the quality of USC, the organization of their team, their talent as well.
“I’m proud of our team. I think we put a heck of an effort forth and we just weren’t quite good enough today.”
It seemed like the Seminoles were a step slower than the Trojans. They could not get behind USC’s well organized defense that produced five shutouts in six games during this tournament.
FSU came in with the most prolific offense in the country behind freshmen Amanda DaCosta and Finnish national team striker Sanna Talonen, and junior Mami Yamaguchi, the ACC’s Player of the Year.
The Trojans shut them down, and when they did get a look at the goal, USC’s 6-0 goalkeeper Kristin Olsen was unbeatable. She registered her 15th goal of the season.
“I think they’re very organized, well-coached, disciplined in their defending,” said Krikorian as he described USC’s defensive effort against his team.
“They’re strong and athletic and behind the back line is a goalkeeper who’s quite good. In order to break that down and to beat that defending you have to be really quick and we weren’t quite sharp enough in the penalty box today.”
Tough Love In Westwood
A good side story to the championship was that of USC’s first-year head coach Ali Khosroshahin. When he took the job, USC athletics director Mike Garrett told him that the school’s programs were only measured by national championships.
That raised the bar very high from Day One. Khosroshahin initiated a very physical training system, mostly running and physical conditioning. He wanted his players fit, and didn’t want to know anything about them personally.
The team adopted a saying, “So what! Get over it!”
It was a strong philosophy of tough love that many resisted, but none of his players question his approach now.
It had to be satisfying for Khosroshahin and his players to take their national championship trophy to Garrett’s office and put it on his desk.
“If we didn’t get it accomplished this year,” he said, “it would’ve been a huge disappointment. We’ve would’ve been back working again tomorrow.
“You have to have that belief in your players and you have to believe in each other and believe in the plan.”
Seminoles Are Making Progress
There was a lot of disappointment on the faces of the Seminoles as the final seconds were counted off at game’s end, but by anybody’s standard, they had a great season.
They would finish the year 18-6-3 and ranked in the Top 10 in the final national poll. They finished third in the ACC regular season, and runnerup for the ACC tournament championship, losing 3-0 to UNC.
Only four seniors will leave the program this year. They are gaining on that national title, one game at a time