Women’s soccer looks to score Final Four spot vs. defending champion Florida State

No. 2 seed UCLA women's soccer has outscored its postseason opponents 11-1 through the first three rounds of the NCAA tournament. The Bruins will next face No. 1 seed Florida State on the road for a spot in the Final Four. (MacKenzie Coffman/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Last time they faced off against the Seminoles, the Bruins emerged victorious.

That was back on Aug. 29, when No. 2 seed UCLA women’s soccer (17-4-1, 8-3 Pac-12) upset defending national champion and then-No. 1 Florida State (18-5-0, 8-2 ACC) by a score of 2-1.

But there will be more on the line this time. The teams will meet in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in Tallahassee, Florida, on Friday.

“We know what they offer, they know us,” said coach Amanda Cromwell. “At this point in the Elite Eight, it’s always going to be great teams going after each other.”

When the Bruins beat the Seminoles earlier in the season, the win snapped the Seminoles’ 11-game winning streak, which dated back to Florida State’s championship run in the 2018 season. Senior midfielder Jessie Fleming scored twice in the nonconference matchup and the Bruins outshot the Seminoles 12-5.

While the game was in Los Angeles, it was not played in the Bruins’ typical home venue, Wallis Annenburg Stadium. Instead, the two teams met up in Los Angeles Football Club’s Banc of California Stadium in front of more than 3,500 fans.

The winner of Friday’s game will get a ticket to San Jose, California, as a member of the NCAA Final Four. The semifinal and championship games will also be played in an MLS stadium – San Jose Earthquakes’ Avaya Stadium.

Because Florida State earned a No. 1 seed in the postseason, UCLA will make the trip out east for the matchup, meaning Sunday’s win over No. 3 seed Wisconsin was the Bruins’ last home game of the season.

“It’s definitely bittersweet, especially for the seniors,” said junior midfielder Viviana Villacorta. “It’s great getting their last win here, and obviously we want to spend Thanksgiving at home.”

Florida State has only lost one game at home all season – good for a 13-1 home record – with that lone loss coming at the hands of then-No. 1 Virginia.

Cromwell, who said earlier in the season that she felt Wallis Annenberg Stadium has the best environment in the country, said she was disappointed about losing the Bruins’ home-field advantage.

“We wish we were hosting at Wallis Annenberg, … especially (against) a team we beat during the year,” Cromwell said. “It’s great playing (at home), the fans are awesome, awesome atmosphere all year long.”

The Seminoles’ road to the quarterfinals has included three wins with an average winning margin of 1.7 goals, compared to the Bruins’ average margin of victory of 3.3. The prime weapon of the Seminoles’ attack this season is forward Deyna Castellanos, who leads Florida State with 12 goals and 11 assists.

The Bruins left Westwood on Tuesday morning, leaving the team two full days in Florida to prepare for the matchup. Freshman forward Mia Fishel – who leads UCLA with 12 goals – said the team has learned a lot from its last run-in with Florida State.

“When we keep possession, the other team gets tired from defending a lot,” Fishel said. “So if we can just keep the ball and pull them wide and spread them apart, then we can just break them down inside.”

The game is set to kick off at 11 a.m. in the Seminole Soccer Complex.

Read more here: http://dailybruin.com/2019/11/28/womens-soccer-looks-to-score-final-four-spot-vs-defending-champion-florida-state/
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