Hurricanes unravel in second half, fall 4-1 to No. 1 Seminoles

Canes soccer players stand for the national anthem before the start of their match versus USF at Cobb Stadium on Sept. 12, 2021.
Canes soccer players stand for the national anthem before the start of their match versus USF at Cobb Stadium on Sept. 12, 2021. Photo credit: Jared Lennon

Behind five saves from goalkeeper Melissa Dagenais, who totaled a career-high 14 saves, the Hurricanes held No. Florida State scoreless in the first half on Saturday.

But Miami struggled to retain possession and sustain pressure on the Seminoles defensive third in the second half as they fell 4-1 in Tallahassee.

“I thought Mel was outstanding,” Miami coach Sarah Barnes said. “There were a number of times where we really needed her to come up big and she did. She really kept us in the game for quite a while. Mel is the kind of player who is always going to be looking for what she can do better, but you have to look at her performance. Her effort, her focus and resilience to be in those pressure situations was outstanding.”

On Dagenais’ career day, the 6-foot-1 junior rejected numerous shots on goal in the first half to keep a scoreless affair. It took a penalty kick to break Dagenais’ wall, who made several highlight-worthy saves on the day. Seminoles senior midfielder Yujie Zhao scored on a direct kick in the 51st minute.

The first goal opened the floodgates for Florida State (13-0, 6-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), which doubled its lead six minutes later when redshirt senior defender Gabby Carle went through and slotted a shot across Dagenais into the far corner.

The Seminoles’ two-goal lead became insurmountable in the 71st minute, as sophomore midfielder Ran Iwai boosted the Florida State lead to three. Miami (4-8, 1-5 ACC) refused to go out silently, however, pulling one back just four minutes later. Redshirt junior forward Gudrun Haralz netted her second goal of the season.

“They have a lot of heart. They’re a team that doesn’t quit,” Barnes said. “They’re a team that fights until the last whistle. It’s a very good place for us to be in right now. It’s the kind of thing that makes other teams worry.”

Although the Hurricanes defense kept fighting until the last whistle against waves of Seminole attacks, Florida State junior LeiLanni Nesbeth was able to add a 90th-minute goal to close the match with a 4-1 result.

“At the end of the day, we really made them work for it. We made the game really difficult for them,” Barnes said. “They’re a very good team and we showed that we can defend and turn them over and disrupt the game a little bit.”

With a 1-2 mark on their three-game road trip, the Hurricanes return to Cobb Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 16 for a matchup versus the Clemson Tigers. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

“If we can do those things against Florida State, who is undefeated and ranked first in the country and has a number of players who have played in world cups and on national teams, we’ve got to take that away and build our confidence, level of comfort, and want to have the ball and put the game on our shoulders,” Barnes said.