Fitness check on LeiLanni Nesbeth ahead of championship showdown
LeiLanni Nesbeth and her Florida State University are one win away from a third national title in seven years as they prepare to meet eleventh-seeded Santa Clara in the NCAA College Cup final at the WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina, tonight.
The Lady Seminoles have lived up to their No 1 ranking, keeping clean sheets in their past two matches before advancing with a perfect record in the penalty kicks.
They beat Duke 5-3 in the quarter-finals before eliminating Virginia 3-0 on penalties after another 0-0 extra-time deadlock.
Nesbeth, who was substituted after 15 minutes as a precaution in the wake of a collision, is hoping to be back in the starting line-up as FSU take on a Santa Clara team who were impressive in their last match, a 3-1 defeat of No 2 seeds North Carolina to reach the final.
This will be just the second meeting between the Lady Seminoles and the Lady Broncos, with the first match-up in 2001 finishing 4-1 in Santa Clara’s favour.
Freshman goalkeeper Cristina Roque was the hero for FSU in their last win, making important saves during the regulation period and then stopping two efforts during the kicks from the spot.
She has allowed only one goal in the first four games of the NCAA Tournament and has three saves in the two shoot-out matches.
Roque saved Duke’s first penalty attempt to help the Seminoles advance 5-3. Then against Virginia, she turned up again with two more saves against the Cavaliers in the 3-0 win.
This will be the fifth trip to the national championship final for the Lady Seminoles whose losses in 2007 and 2013 were followed by victories in 2014 and 2018. Their last win three years ago came at the same WakeMed Soccer Park.
Florida State are looking to become only the fourth college to win at least three NCAA soccer championships, joining North Carolina (21), Notre Dame (three) and Stanford (three).
The final will air live on ESPN2, starting at 6.30pm Bermuda time.
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