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No. 5 Rutgers vs. No. 1 Florida State: Women’s Soccer National Semifinal Preview & Game Thread

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The Scarlet Knights take on the top team in the nation for a chance to advance to the national championship game.

Amirah Ali and Frankie Tagliaferri look to lead Rutgers to the national title game.
Ben Solomon/Rutgers Athletics

How To Watch, Stream & Listen

NCAA Tournament Semifinals (COLLEGE CUP)

No. 1 Florida State (20-1-3) vs. No. 5 Rutgers (19-3-2)

Where: Stevens Stadium in Santa Clara, California (7,000 capacity)

Kick-off: Friday, December 3 at 7:00 PM ET

Weather: 53 degrees, mostly clear, NW winds 4 mph, 7% chance of rain

Tickets: Purchase by clicking here

TV: ESPNU - Jenn Hildreth and Julie Foudy

Stream: ESPN APP (FREE)

Radio: WRSU 88.7 FM

Stats: Live stats available at NCAA.com

Last time out: No. 1 seed Rutgers outlasted Big SEC champion No. 2 seed Arkansas in a double overtime draw by advancing in a penalty kick shootout 4-2. No. 1 seed Florida State beat No. 2 seed Michigan 1-0 in overtime.

College Cup Semifinal Round History: Rutgers - 2nd appearance, 0-1 all-time; Florida State - 12th appearance, 4-6-1 all-time.

Players to Watch for Rutgers: Frankie Tagliaferri - 13 goals, 9 assists, 35 points; Amirah Ali - 12 goals, 6 assists, 30 points; Riley Tiernan - 8 goals, 13 assists, 29 points; Gabby Provenzano - Big Ten Defender of the Year; Meagan McClelland - 0.67 goals against average, 0.833 save percentage

Players to Watch for Florida State: Jaelin Howell - Reigning MAC Hermann Trophy Winner, 2 goals, 4 assists, 8 points: Beata Olsson - 14 goals, 1 assist, 29 points; Clara Robbins - 6 goals, 8 assists, 20 points; Yujie Zhao - 5 goals, 9 assists, 19 points; Jody Brown - 4 goals, 10 assists, 18 points; Cristina Roque - 0.64 goals against average, 0.697 save percentage

All-Americans

Rutgers: Frankie Tagliaferri - First Team (second all-time); Gabby Provenzano - First Team; Amirah Ali - Third Team (fourth all-time)

Florida State: Jaelin Howell - First Team (second all-time); Emily Madril - First Team (second all-time); Yujie Zhao -Second Team (third all-time)

Quotes

“It’s hard to find words to express what it feels like to be going to the Final Four. This team has worked so incredibly hard and have always left everything out there for each other. To know we’re adding to the great culture of all the amazing teams that paved the way is just an unreal feeling,” said junior back Allison Lynch.

“From the beginning of the season we clicked. We were playing really well in the preseason games and then nonconference. Then Big Ten play going undefeated, it gave us confidence We’re all very close, we’re a family. It’s a special team to be part of,” said sophomore back Emma Misal.

“Since preseason, we’ve been saying to each other, we’re ring chasing and we’ve been creating goals throughout the season. It started since the beginning. It started with non-conference goals, conference goals and postseason goals. We accomplished a lot of those goals. And there are some that we came a little short from, but I think those were all learning moments that have prepared us for this moment this weekend,” said senior forward Frankie Tagliaferri.

“Being home has been a big part of what we’ve done this season. Having everyone in the stands, hearing them cheer us on and encouraging us during the game - it’s like having a 12th man out there. It’s a really cool experience having so many people come out and to support us. I’ve never experienced anything like this, it’s amazing to be part of it,” said sophomore forward Allison Lowrey.

“Being able to represent New Jersey in the Final Four is an awesome feeling and a great opportunity for our team. We always talk about Jersey pride, Jersey grit. A lot of people look at it as they’re all local, but we think of it as we’re all home. We’re home here with our family. Even though most of our team is from Jersey, our out-of-staters come in and they bring their adversity through their other states to us. They add to the program and then we show him what jersey is like and they make it even better. We have the best fan base in the country and we can’t wait to go out to California representing the state, bringing all that pride and grit with us,” said senior captain Meagan McClelland.

“The 2015 team left an amazing foundation and one that every team I’ve been a part of here at Rutgers has wanted to chase and reach. To be able to now get the opportunity to do what they’ve done and to do what we’ve heard about, it’s an amazing experience. It’s incredible. They’ve set the bar so high, and that’s what we say every year is to raise the standard and make it a new one. So that’s our hopes going into Cali,” said senior captain Gabby Provenzano.

Podcast Preview

The Matchup

This will be the first ever meeting between Florida State and Rutgers. The Seminoles lost in the national championship to Santa Clara last season in the spring of 2021. They have seven players on the roster that were part of the 2018 national championship team. Their experience in this setting is a significant advantage.

Offensively, Florida State is 5th nationally averaging 2.83 goals per game while Rutgers is 10th nationally averaging 2.67 goals per game.

FSU allows just 0.550 goals per game, sixth best nationally. Rutgers allows 0.655 goals per game, which is 21st nationally.

Statistically, these teams are not that far apart. Both dominated their leagues, have high powered offenses and stingy defenses.

The Seminoles are led by reigning MAC Hermann Trophy winner Jaelin Howell. She is a defensive midfielder who helps anchor FSU’s backline. She’s a key reason along with fellow All-American Emily Madril that they dominate possession, averaging 63% this season.

“When they have the ball we need to have a plan on how we’re going to be successful in preventing opportunities,” Rutgers coach Mike O’Neill said. “They’re going to be really good at the ball. So we need to do a good job defensively. And then when we have it, we need to make sure that we do a good job of keeping it.”

Beata Olsson leads Florida State with 14 goals this season and has scored three times in the NCAA Tournament, including the game winner against Michigan to advance to the Final Four. No one else has more than 6 goals but they have a program record 17 goal scorers overall this season.

It’s pretty simple, Rutgers needs its best players to perform at a high level to have a chance of winning tonight. Amirah Ali, Frankie Tagliaferri and Riley Tiernan needs to generate chances on the offensive end and finish. Gabby Provenzano needs to anchor the backline at the high level she always does. Meagan McClelland, who has been sensational in the NCAA Tournament, needs to have her best game. Other freshmen like Kylie Daigle and Emily Mason need to continue to play at a high level.

Maintaining poise and controlling their emotions, especially in the beginning, is a major key. FSU is used to the big stage and Rutgers needs to settle in early to avoid falling behind. Stick to the game plan and don’t press too hard.

The Scarlet Knights might not have as much big game experience as Florida State, but they are battle tested. They survived against two top-20 offenses in TCU and Arkansas in the last two rounds, came back from a deficit, counterattacked and ultimately outplayed those opponents late in those games. Their confidence is high and while facing the No. 1 team in the country is a daunting task, Rutgers has the ability to win this game.

Join us in the comment section during the game and follow us on Twitter at @OTB_SBNation for live commentary.