With seconds left in the first overtime period of Friday’s NCAA Quarterfinal, everyone in Tallahassee — from the crowd to the No. 9 Michigan women’s soccer team (18-4-3 overall, 6-2-2 Big Ten) — seemed ready to go to the break.
That is, everyone but No. 1 Florida State (20-1-2, 7-1-2 ACC), who punched their ticket to the Final Four by defeating the Wolverines 1-0 off a last-minute goal by forward Beata Olsson.
On a routine throw in, a chip pass from Seminoles midfielder Jaelin Howell was received by Gabby Carle. As Michigan fifth-year goalkeeper Hillary Beall went to defend against a shot, Carle hesitated, then bounced it past Beall’s leg to the front of an open net.
Olsson charged to the ball, and Beall was just out of reach to make a save. In the blink of an eye, the Wolverines’ season was over.
Entering just their third Elite Eight in program history, Michigan faced an uphill battle. Not only was Florida State the top-ranked and top-seeded team in the country, the Seminoles posted a 11-0-1 record on their home pitch.
On the other side, the Wolverines entered on an eight-game win streak, including victories over No. 4 Rutgers and No.6 Tennessee. With both teams playing top-level soccer, something had to give.
In the eighth minute, Florida State appeared to have struck first. Following a free kick, Olsson received a pass from midfielder Emily Madril, booting it past Beall for a goal. The goal was immediately waved off, however, as the sideline referee called Olsson offside.
A similar situation occurred just seven minutes later. As Seminoles forward Jenna Nighswonger attempted an Olimpico shot from the corner, Beall made a mistimed punchout attempt, which bounced off the shoulder of senior defender Sydney Shepherd back to the goal.
Though Beall appeared to swipe the ball out of danger, the Seminoles erupted, claiming the ball had crossed the goal line. After reviewing the play, the referee upheld his initial ruling of a no-goal.
Michigan’s best chance of the match came in the 66th minute, when fifth-year midfielders Sarah Stratigakis and Nicki Hernandez executed a masterful give and go, pinballing through the Florida State back line.
It was ultimately not to be, however, as the finishing stroke by Hernandez was deflected away by Seminoles goalkeeper Cristina Roque.
The lone penalty kick of the match came for Florida State in the 77th minute, by way of a tackle inside the box by Michigan junior forward Jayde Riviere. Midfielder Jaelin Howell was the Seminole tasked with taking the kick but was unsuccessful after being unable to fool Beall with a stutter step.
The penalty kick was ultimately the last true chance for either side in the match until the 99th-minute game winner.
Despite the defeat, Michigan coach Jennifer Klein was complementary of her team following the match.
“The experience of playing in an Elite Eight against the top ranked seed is gonna make our program better,” Klein said. “We know we can compete now.
“Coming to Michigan four years ago, I saw this program had the chance to do something great. Every year we’ve built on what the last season accomplished. It hurts to lose here, but we’re gonna continue to grow and have more success.”
Daily sports writer David Woelkers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @dawjr98