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No. 5 Rutgers women's soccer ends season with 1-0 loss to Florida State in NCAA College Cup semifinals

Senior forward Amirah Ali played her final game as a Knight in the NCAA Final Four matchup. – Photo by Samantha Cheng

After a historic season and monumental run in the College Cup, the Rutgers women’s soccer team suffered a season-ending 1-0 loss against Florida State in the national semifinal this Friday in Santa Clara, California. 

The semifinal match was the first meeting between the No. 5 Scarlet Knights (19-4-2, 10-0-0) and the No. 1 Seminoles (21-1-2, 12-0-1). Both No. 1 seeds got the match off to a slow start attributed to their experienced backlines.

The first half saw action early as LeiLanni Nesbeth rebounded a header off the crossbar point-blank in front of the net. With perfect timing, junior back Allison Lynch blocked her chance to keep Rutgers level 3 minutes into the match. 

Two minutes later, senior goalkeeper Meagan McClelland made the first save of the match, and her only save of the half. Both teams registered only four more shots for the rest of the half, marking the Knights’ second-lowest shooting half of the season. Michigan held Rutgers to just one first-half shot earlier this season.

Compared to Florida State’s four first half shots, the Knights three shots showed how both sides took a defensive approach in the opening 45 minutes.

Going into the second half tied in saves, goals and shots on target, the Seminoles kept the game’s pace highly defensive. The match was deadlocked for almost 20 minutes of the second half until Florida State took their fifth corner kick. 

In the 70th minute, Jenna Nighswonger sent in a dangerous corner that fell into Rutgers’ six-yard box and deflected off of multiple players. Jaelin Howell was able to control the ball in the area and converted the only goal of the match to put the Seminoles in the lead.

After its goal, Florida State changed its play style to address the midfield by moving to a 3-5-2 formation. Cristina Roque’s double save in the 77th minute thwarted sophomore forward Allison Lowrey and senior midfielder Frankie Tagliaferri’s final hopes in drawing the game level. 

With the blow of the final whistle, the match and the Knights season came to a close, along with the Rutgers careers of All-American seniors forward Amirah Ali, back Gabby Provenzano and Tagliaferri. 

“What we leave behind is our grit and determination … I think going on for all the future teams is just knowing to always have confidence and always believe in yourself,” said Provenzano.

For updates on the Rutgers women's soccer team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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