The UCLA Women’s Soccer team (17-4-1) is in Tallahassee to face the Florida State Seminoles (18-5) in a quarterfinal match-up that will determine one of the four teams to go to San Jose for the Women’s College Cup next weekend. Kickoff is at 11 a.m. PT.
This will be the second time that the two teams have faced each other this season, with UCLA prevailing over FSU in late August by the score of 2-1. After looking at the two teams’ records and knowing that the Bruins already beat the Seminoles, you might be asking yourself, “why isn’t this game being played in Westwood?” After all, UCLA has less losses as well as a head-to-head win.
Although the argument can be made that FSU’s losses were to better teams (UCLA, Southern Cal, North Carolina, and Virginia twice), the short answer is, in my opinion, ACC bias. Of the four number one seeds given out in the 2019 postseason, three went to ACC schools.
Although hindsight is 20/20, as we now sit here with eight teams remaining in the tournament, four are from the PAC 12 (Stanford, UCLA, Southern Cal, and Washington State), and only two are from the ACC (Florida State and North Carolina). Virginia, which went 6-0-3 in the ACC and was a #1 seed, was taken down at home by Washington State, which went 5-5-1 in the PAC 12. So which conference is truly better?
In this writer’s opinion, the selection committee undervalued the PAC 12 this season and gave the ACC too much credence. Unfortunately, for UCLA and other PAC 12 teams, this is not an unusual occurrence.
But, it is what it is at this point and the Bruins have enough talent to prevail today in Tallahassee against a very, very good FSU team, who also happen to be the defending National Champions.
LAST TIME OUT
UCLA took care of business last Sunday in Westwood by beating the Wisconsin Badgers by the score of 2-0. Frankly, the game was not as close as the score would indicate, as the Bruins out-shot the Badgers 17-3, 9-1 on goal.
After a scoreless first half, Mia Fishel scored for the Bruins in 49th minute and, less than five minutes later, in the 53rd minute, Viviana Villacorta buried an absolute cracker of a goal with her left foot off a free kick outside the area. Check out Villacorta’s goal below:
UCLA’s postseason win over Wisconsin was much more dominant that its regular season win over the Badgers, in which UCLA prevailed, 1-0, but both teams in the earlier game were almost equal in shots and shots on goal. The Bruins appear to be peaking at the right time, and are winners of eight straight games and eleven of their last twelve.
FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
UCLA faces a Florida State squad that it beat in late August, 2-1. In that game, UCLA got an early lead in the 14th minute and extended the lead to two goals in the 35th minute. Both goals were scored by Jessie Fleming. The Seminoles clawed one back in the 76th minute, but could not get the equalizer. UCLA out-shot FSU 12-5 in that game, 11-3 on target. Now the teams re-match in Tallahassee with a Women’s College Cup berth on the line.
Florida State beat South Alabama, Brown, and South Florida to get to the quarterfinal stage. The Bulls put a scare into the ‘Noles last weekend, taking a 1-0 lead, but FSU was able to come back and prevail 2-1, to move onto the quarterfinals.
Florida State has scored 49 goals on the season (one more than UCLA in more more game played), but have allowed opponents to score 23 goals (the Bruins, by contrast, have only allowed 16 goals). The ‘Noles are led by senior, Deyna Castellanos, one of the best players in the college game.
Castellanos has twelve goals on the season to go with eleven assists, although the Bruins were able to keep her quiet in Westwood in August, allowing her only one shot. If they hope to prevail today, the Bruins will need to keep the Venezuelan international off the score sheet.
Senior Caroline Jeffers will start in goal for Florida State. She has played all but three games for FSU this season, and has seven clean sheets. Jeffers has forty-eight saves on the season, with nine of them coming against the Bruins back in August.
After bashing the NCAA selection committee for overvaluing the ACC in the selection process, I cannot pick against the Bruins, right? I am going to predict that UCLA wins in overtime, by the score of 2-1.