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For the third time in the last eight years, Florida State women’s soccer has won the NCAA National Championship. The Seminoles downed No. 13 BYU on Monday night in a penalty shootout to win the Women’s College Cup.
BYU came into the game averaging 3.5 goals per contest and boasting the number one offense in the country, but Florida State had not allowed a score since its match against SMU in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Seminoles were averaging just under three goals per contest, but the Cougars were almost as stingy on defense as FSU – they allowed just two goals during the NCAA tournament.
It was a defensive battle in the first half with the teams combining for only five shots. They went into the locker room scoreless at the half. Ultimately, neither team would find the back of the net, and for the third year in a row, the women’s soccer championship would come down to penalties.
Florida State – who fell in penalties to Santa Clara in 2020 – flipped the script against BYU.
After both teams converted their penalties in the first round, sophomore goalkeeper Cristina Roque blocked BYU’s shot in the second round. Junior Heather Payne buried her shot to give Florida State a 2-1 lead. BYU made its next shot, but the Seminoles failed to convert on their third-round penalty. However, the Cougars' next penalty was also saved by Roque. Senior Jaelin Howell made hers, giving the Seminoles a 3-2 advantage. BYU made its next penalty, leaving the match up to senior Yujie Zhao.
Zhao froze the BYU goalkeeper with a stutter-step approach and put the ball in the back of the net, securing FSU’s third national title.
With the 2021 title in hand, Florida State has cemented its legacy among the greatest programs in the sport. Only North Carolina has won more NCAA women’s soccer national championships as FSU is now tied with Notre Dame and Stanford for second on the all-time list for most championships.