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Youth Soccer
Friday, December 01, 2023
Nesbeth & Florida State Advance To Championships

Leilanni Nesbeth’s teammates Kaitlyn Zipay and Jordynn Dudley led top-ranked Florida State to a 2 - 0 victory over seventh-ranked Clemson to punch their ticket to the 2023 Women's College Cup National Championship. Florida State have now reached the final in three of the last four seasons and are the first team since 2015 to reach the championship without conceding a goal in the tournament.

The two teams faced off for the third time this season with Florida State winning the first match in Clemson 4 - 2 before meeting again in the ACC Championship where Onyi Ecehgini scored twice to lead them to their fourth straight conference title. Clemson defeated Radford, Columbia, Georgia, and fifth-ranked Penn State to march to their first College Cup while Florida State defeated Morehead State, Texas A&M, Texas, and No. 11 Pitt to make their 14th appearance in the College Cup.

Florida State got off to a decent start as they created some quality chances. Taylor Huff had the best opportunity inside the opening five minutes as she drove through the heart of the Clemson defense and sprinted right up to the keeper before taking a shot that was saved and up for grabs in a scramble before the Tigers defense cleared away the chance.

The run of play began to shift Clemson's way as they grew into the game and began to threaten for the game's opening goal and forced Cristina Roque into four first-half saves, tied for the most saves in a half for her all season. The newly-named All-American showed off her lateral quickness when Dani Davis fired off a shot that forced Roque to dive left and make another clutch stop. Clemson outshot the Seminoles in the first half 8-4 but the score remained locked at zeroes at the half-hour mark.

Taylor Huff was set to take a corner and her cross came flying in at the near post and was cleared away but a vertical kick by Heather Gilchrist saw the ball drift over the Clemson backline and into Zipay's path. She waited patiently for the bounce and on the half-volley she crushed the ball with a fiery pace towards the near post and scored the game's first goal. The substitute made her impact on the biggest stage and Zipay chose the right time to score her first goal of the postseason and just her fourth goal of the season. The Seminoles led by one goal at the break.

FSU built upon the lead early in the second half when ACC Freshman of the Year Jordynn Dudley sprinted down the touchline draped with Tiger defenders but withstood the pressure. She drove into the box and uncorked a shot into the upper right corner for another unbelievable goal to push the lead to two. Dudley scored her 13th goal of the season, third goal of the tournament and 34th point of the season to equalize with Echegini as the team's leading point-scorers.

Florida State dominated the run of play throughout the remainder of the game as Clemson was only able to muster one shot on goal in the remainder of the game while FSU fired five more shots. The final whistle rang and Florida State defeated Clemson for a third and final time to reach the National Championship for the first time since 2021 and their seventh trip to the final game. They also haven't given up a goal throughout the tournament run and are the first team to accomplish the feat since Penn State in 2015.
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