NCAA Women’s College Soccer: Top-Seeded Florida State Advances To Fifth Straight Final Four, Will Meet Duke In Semifinals

The top-seeded and No. 2 ranked Florida State Seminoles are among four teams to punch their tickets to the 2015 Women’s College Cup.

Florida State (18-2-4), the defending national champions, earned its fifth straight trip to the NCAA College Cup with a 5-0 victory over No. 21 Texas A&M (17-7-2) in the quarterfinals on Friday, according to NCAA.

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Florida State will meet No. 20 Duke (13-5-5) in the first semifinal, starting at 7:30 p.m. on December 4, while No. 9 Rutgers and No. 6 Penn State (20-3-2) square off in the other semifinal at 5 p.m. The games will be played at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. and both games will be televised on ESPNU.

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The Seminoles took control of the match against Texas A&M early and cruised to their ninth berth in the College Cup. Florida State scored two goals in the first half and then tacked on three extra in the second.

Ten Florida State players tallied a point led by Elin Jensen with two goals and Kaycie Jensen had three assists. But the story was once again the Seminoles defense as Florida State limited the Aggies to three shots and did not permit a shot on goal. The shutout was the Seminoles 15th of the season.

In fact, the Tampa Bay Times reports that Florida State enters the semifinals with a NCAA postseason record of 900 minutes scoreless streak — which surpassed North Carolina’s 2003-04 streak of 829:31.

Florida State has scored 15 goals in four postseason games, defeating Evansville (3-0), South Alabama (5-0) Auburn (2-0) and Texas A&M.

Overall, the Seminoles have outscored their opponents 64-13 and hold 194-63 shot advantage. Megan Connolly tops the team with 28 points (9 goals, 10 assists) while Cheyna Williams is second with 27 points, including a team-high 10 goals. 18-of-20 Florida State players that have appeared in a game has recorded a point, including starting goalkeeper Cassie Miller (1 assist).

With their fifth consecutive College Cup appearance in tow, the Seminoles join North Carolina, Notre Dame, Stanford, and UCLA as the other programs to accomplish the feat — UNC tops the list with 22 consecutive appearances. According to ESPN, only North Carolina, Notre Dame, Stanford, and Santa Clara have more total appearances than Florida State.

Duke is making its third appearance in the College Cup after upsetting No. 3 Stanford (19-2-1). The Blue Devils won 3-2 on penalty kicks as goalkeeper E.J. Proctor made the save of her career. The game was knotted at 1-1 through double overtime.

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Overall, Duke has registered 412 shots and have permitted 229 by its opponents. The Blue Devils also have posted 13 shutouts, which ranks second most in school history, per Duke Athletic Department. Taylor Racioppi (20 points) and Kayla McCoy (16 points) each had seven goals to lead the team.

Florida State and Duke played to a 0-0 draw in the regular season.

In the other semifinal:

Penn State versus Rutgers

Penn State is making its first College Cup appearance since being national runners-up in 2012. The Nittany Lions defeated No. 2 seed West Virginia 2-0 as goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom made three saves. Overall, this is Penn State’s fifth semifinal appearance.

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The victory over West Virginia (19-3-1) marked the fourth shutout for the Nittany Lions this postseason, who have outscored their opponents 17-0. Penn State has won nine straight matches, shutting out their last six opponents and 13 overall.

The Nittany Lions have defeated Albany (5-0), Boston University (6-0), Ohio State (4-0), and West Virginia this postseason.

Penn State has scored 59 goals and given up 14 while holding a 407-190 shot advantage this year. Megan Schafer (13 goals, 3 assists) leads the team with 29 points while Malory Weber (8 goals, 10 assists) and Frannie Crouse (9 goals, 7 assists) have topped the 20-point plateau.

Rutgers earmarked its first trip to the College Cup with a 7-6 (0-0) shootout victory over No. 1 ranked Virginia (19-1-2). Rutgers is the first team since 2005 to win a road quarterfinal game in penalty shootout as well as the first time since 2002 to do so while holding its opponent scoreless through 110 minutes.

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The Scarlet Knights, who have won four in a row, have outscored their opponents 7-0 during the postseason. Rutgers defeated Fairleigh Dickinson (1-0), Hofstra (2-0), No. 18 UConn (4-0) and Virginia.

Rutgers is the lowest scoring team and stingiest defensive squad in the College Cup, having outscored its opponents 40-8 and outshot them 377-204. Colby Ciarrocca leads the team with nine goals and 22 points. Goalkeeper Casey Murphy has registered 19 shutouts this season.

Penn State and Rutgers have split their two meetings this year. Rutgers won 1-0 during the regular season, while Penn State earned a 2-0 win in the Big Ten Conference Championship game.

The championship game is slated for Dec. 6 at noon.

[Photo courtesy of Florida State Twitter]