The UCLA women’s soccer team (2-0-1) will complete its lengthy East Coast road trip today with another tough match, this time against the Florida State Seminoles. Kickoff is this afternoon at 2 p.m. With a 2-1 victory over then #3 Penn State last weekend and a draw against the Florida Gators on Friday evening, UCLA will seek another positive result in Tallahassee before coming back to Los Angeles.
Both the Bruins and the Seminoles are playing on just two days rest as both played in scoreless draws on Friday, meaning that each team played 110 minutes in those contests.
UCLA drew Florida in Gainesville, 0-0, in a game where the Bruins outplayed the Gators, but just could not find the back of the net. The Bruins had 17 shots (8 of which were on frame) to just five (one on frame) for Florida. Part of UCLA’s troubles in the final third can be attributed to Hailie Mace and Jessie Fleming not being with the team.
Mace was called up by the USWNT and played much of the second half in the national team’s win over Chile. It was Mace’s second cap with the USWNT. Fleming was called up to the Canadian national squad. Both will miss today’s game against the Seminoles, leading one to speculate on whether the Bruins will face similar problems in the final third.
The Seminoles drew #7 Southern Cal on Friday, also playing 110 minutes in a scoreless draw. Florida State’s stats against the Trojans were very similar to the Bruins stats against the Gators: the Seminoles had 18 shots, with six on frame, to just six shots for Southern Cal, with just one on frame.
Florida State has played a total of five games so far this season, and has not conceded a single goal, with a 1-0 over Vandy, a 6-0 victory over Troy, a pair of 3-0 wins over Wisconsin and Middle Tennessee, and the aforementioned draw against Southern Cal. All of Florida State’s games have been at home, expect for the Wisconsin match, which was in Madison. Although the schedule has not been as impressive as the Bruins’ slate so far, the Seminoles are a dangerous team.
Florida State has turned into one of the best women’s soccer programs in the country under Head Coach Mark Krikorian. After losing in the National Championship game to UCLA in 2013, the ‘Noles made it back to the College Cup in 2014, winning the National Championship, and were one of the Final Four in 2015, losing in the semifinals. Florida State did not make the Final Four of women’s college soccer the last two seasons.
UCLA will need to be wary of junior forward Deyna Castellanos, who scores 19 goals last year as a sophomore. Castellanos was actually (and controversially) one of three finalists for FIFA Female Best Player of the Year in 2017, and the only non-professional to make the final list. Yes, Castellanos was in the final three over players like Mallory Pugh, Christine Sinclair, and Alex Morgan. Once Castellanos is done in Tallahassee, she will likely take her goal-scoring ability to the Venezuelan national team and the NWSL.
FSU goalkepper Brooke Bollinger has only six saves on the season through five games, which shows you how well Florida State’s back line has controlled the competition.
I am predicting another draw in this game. Without Mace and Fleming, UCLA may struggle to break down the Seminoles’ talented back line.
This is your UCLA Bruins Women’s Soccer versus Florida State open thread.